Ridout House is among the most sophisticated colonial period houses in Annapolis. Built in 1764–1765 for John Ridout, secretary to Provincial Governor Horatio Sharpe, this finely executed Georgian house played a key role in the development of Annapolis’s gentry housing. The two-story, five-bay brick house is particularly noteworthy for its plan, which deviates from the traditional center-hall Georgian structures of its day, becoming one of the earliest to adopt what became known as the Annapolis Plan, which positions the finest rooms to the rear of the house in order to take advantage of garden views.
Ridout House sits along one of the city’s most prominent thoroughfares, about equal distance to the state capitol to the northwest and the city docks to the northeast. It is adjacent to John Ridout’s former brick carriage house, now a residence, and to his speculative town houses known as Ridout Row. The front and rear facades are of all-header bond brick and include a decorative water table and belt course, jack-arch lintels, and massive slab chimneys. An unusual feature of the house is its pavilion-like projections at the side elevations, which meet with the returns of the boxed cornices to the front and rear. Ridout House sits on a high rise with a large intact terraced garden to the rear, accessed from the large drawing room via a Doric entry portico. In fact, the garden front of the house is less restrained than the street facade, and includes a large Palladian window on the second story that provides views of the garden.
While the builder/designer is not known, the house has been in the Ridout family since its construction. John Ridout is said to have built this house in an effort to win the hand of Mary Ogle, and was in competition with Governor Sharpe, who was also building a house in hopes of obtaining the same privilege. John married Mary in 1764 and would later inherit Sharpe’s Whitehall. In 1773–1774, Ridout built adjoining row houses as an investment property. Ridout House is among the few great Annapolis houses still remaining in private hands and retaining its terraced garden. It forms an important part of the architectural evolution of Annapolis, a period in which many of the city’s finest houses were erected, including the Brice, Chase-Lloyd, and Hammond-Harwood houses.
Carson, Cary, and Carl R. Lounsbury. The Chesapeake House: Architectural Investigation by Colonial Williamsburg. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013.
“John Ridout House,” Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Historic American Buildings Survey, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1964. From Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (HABS No. Md-91).
Miller, Marcia, and Orlando Ridout, V, et. al. Architecture in Annapolis. Annapolis: Vernacular Architecture Forum and Maryland Historical Trust Press, 1998.