When Sir Francis Nicholson designed the city plan of Annapolis in 1694, he formed two monumental street circles on the highest points overlooking the harbor and Chesapeake Bay. State Circle provides a most commanding setting for the State House and seat of government. Church Circle, the location of St. Anne’s Church, is smaller, and on slightly lower ground, but in many ways has a greater visual impact on the city.
Church Circle is the hinge between Main Street and West Street. Probably the only salient feature on the Annapolis peninsula before Nicholson’s plan was the horse path from western lands to the natural harbor. This path was formed by the natural topography. Situated on the highest ground between Spa Creek and College Creek (now West Street), it lead to the most gradual slope into the natural harbor (now Main Street). If you stand at the south side of St. Anne’s Church, near Captain John Worthington’s 1701 grave, you can look down Main Street to the harbor and look out West Street, the land route to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. It is not hard to imagine that the placement of the church building was in respect to this ancient path. It is one explanation for the fact that the building is not in the center of the circle and the front door is not precisely centered on West Street.
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