Though no images of the armory survive, early records mentioned the Armory of Annapolis in August 1716 for funding for “an handsome house be built for the lodging & Securing the publik Magazine of Arms in the City & also that part of the Ammunition consisting of Ball lead, Match & Flints…” It was completed a year later. A further description offered these notes: “The Armory stood at the north side [of the State House] at an equal distance from the Court House,…a wooden gilt chandelier suspended from the vaulted roof…”
With the declaration of war and the arrival of the British fleet in the bay in 1813, the Armory was too small for the storage of tens of thousands of military accroutrements needed to supply the militia. Supplies such as ball-lead, Du-Pont gunpowder, muskets, rifles, cannons, etc., all had to be contracted by the state and then sent to Annapolis for storage until distribution. It is very likely several large warehouses were used to store the enormous amount of supplies needed to furnish the Maryland militia during the war. Three other state armories were established that required supplies from Annapolis, Baltimore, Frederick-Town and Easton on the Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Each was managed by an Armorer.
The Annapolis Armorer was none other than John Shaw (1745-1829), a cabinet-maker, custodian, and keeper of the state records.
Sources: The Ancient City, A History of Annapolis, 1649-1887 by Elihu S. Riley (Annapolis, 1887); Buildings of the State of Maryland at Annapolis, by Morris L. Radoff (Annapolis: Hall of Records Commission. 1954).