William Reynolds, hatter and dry goods salesman, leased the glebe land adjacent to Franklin Street and Church Circle from St. Anne’s Church in 1747. He constructed the tavern from which he conducted his hat business, rented rooms, and operated an “ordinary” (a.k.a. tavern) which served hot and cold food and liquor to visitors. The Beaver and Lac’d Hat, as the Tavern was known, provided a meeting place for farmers, gentlemen, merchants, and soldiers. Here one could eat, drink, leave messages, buy theater tickets, conduct business and trade, stable horses, and have a game of cards, chess, or backgammon. Among others, the Corporation of the City of Annapolis and the Mayors Court met regularly at the tavern.
After his death in 1777, Reynolds’ third wife, Mary, maintained the tavern until her death in 1785. Thereafter, Magrette, the daughter of William, ran the tavern. In 1796, she sold the tavern to John Davidson for 1,020 pounds ($1,500.00). Davidson’s widow ran a boarding house there until 1811 when the tavern and its adjoining land were sold to Farmers National Bank. Farmers National Bank added the rear wing in 1906.
In 1935, Standard Oil Company wished to buy the property in order to tear down and replace the tavern with a filling station. However, a group of far-sighted Annapolitans proposed that Trust Fund residuals from the ‘Female Orphan Society’ be used to purchase and convert the structure into the Annapolis Public Library.
In l974, the library system had outgrown th
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