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William Brown House, c.1760

A National Historic Landmark

London Town recently embarked on a major preservation effort on the William Brown House. Read all about the project in our new blog here!

Repair the Porch

The modern riverside porch of the historic William Brown House has become worn down and damaged. London Town will be working with Bleak Hill Restorations to repair the deterioration, ensuring a new, appropriate porch and stairs can be enjoyed by thousands of students and visitors each year. Will you donate today to repair the porch? Please consider making a donation today! >DONATE


Between 1758 and 1764, William Brown, carpenter, ferrymaster and tavern keeper, built his large Georgian house to be  tavern overlooking the ferry landing in the busy port town of London on the South River. He used fashionable and expensive header bond brickwork on all four elevations, rather than the typical one or two sides, making this building unique. This exterior belies the very simple interior, which may not even have been completely finished during the twenty some years that the Browns lived there.

A Place to Visit

The large paneled door opens into a spacious entry which probably housed a bar with a pass-through to the tavern room. Eighteenth century taversn were gathering places for the entire community. Not only food and drink but news, gossip, music, gaming and business dealings were all found here.

Tavern Room

Taverns served wine, beer, cider and rum, which was often served in a punch. The bowl of rum punch was usually shared around the table. Games of cards, dice or board games such as backgammon were popular amusements.

Corner Rooms

The corner rooms, which were uniquely raised a step above the public areas, provided more private spaces for club meetings, small dinners, a "dish" of tea or for a man of business to conduct his affairs as well as get a night's sleep.

Private Room

A tobacco factor could rent a room for several weeks to meet with planters and arrange the consignment of their tobacco crops to his company. A folding or press bed took up less space while allowing him to sleep in greater comfort than most tavern guests.  Sleeping in the tavern usually meant sharing a room and sometimes a bed with several other guests.

A Place to Live

Like most tavern keepers, William Brown and his family also lived here. The parlor would be busy with family meals, household chores, and children's activities.

A Place to Work

Below stairs, indentured servants and slaves would be working to keep the tavern operating. Cooking, laundry and storage were essential to any well run tavern. The large kitchen fireplace would have been busy with the cook and her helpers making meals and servers running up and down the steps with food and drink. Once their long days were done, they would share sleeping space in the single corner room with a fireplace.


The cooks could be busy making meals, preserving food and the making of candles and soap. Hot meals were served at set times. A guest arriving late would have to settle for bread and cheese or cold meats.


William Brown lost the house to his creditors and it became a rental property  as the town faded away. In the 1820's, it became a residence for the poor and was purchased by Anne Arundel County in 1828 as the almshouse. It continued to shelter the destitute until 1965.

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