Early stone foundation under brick
Pipe stems   
Aboriginal pottery
Buttons, thimbles, & pins
House in 1903 after street after street was raised.
William Sands Revolutionary War letter
Stone Foundation
Sands House Before Being Raised
300 Years of History
  The Story of The Sands House
No one really knows exactly how old the Sands House is.   During a 1988 renovation, archaeologists dug into ground that had lain undisturbed beneath the house at 130 Prince George Street for more than two hundred years.  There, they uncovered signs of another house, built by English settlers some time in the seventeenth century, and under a few more layers of earth were marks of a structure put up by Indians some 1600 years ago.

For two hundred years at least, the house sheltered the site of earlier structures and the trash their occupants left behind.  As the volunteers with Archaeology in Annapolis dug deeper and deeper, the earth yielded colonial artifacts C pipe stems, thimbles, pins, a flintlock, a coin, a toothbrush - and even bits of ancient Indian pottery.

Maybe the present house was built from timbers used in that earlier structure.  Like anything made of materials as perishable as wood, the Sands House is a composite of the repairs, additions, modifications, and renovations made year by year, decade by decade, over two and possibly three centuries. We may never know for sure.
Changes Through Time
The earliest house probably initially sat upon impermanent wooden blocks or posts.  When the house was built, or rebuilt, in 1739 it received a new, more permanent fieldstone foundation.  Much later, the stone was replaced with a more substantial brick foundation.  The latest foundation addition was in 1904 when the house was raised nearly two feet.  This was necessitated, according to an August 27 report in the Evening Capital, because of street improvements, which made the Sands House "level with the street, and in some parts a foot below."  The work was done by builder W. Brewer Gardiner.   It took a week, and cost $829. Gardiner also tore down a rear wing and replaced it with the present one, using windows, doors, "and all other material that is fit from the old building."   For this he charged $900.  Indoor plumbing with a cast iron tub came sometime later, and electricity replaced gas lights in 1917.
The builder and first occupant of the house are unknown, though there are indications that it might have been John Irvin, who bought the property in 1739.  A paper trail of deeds and surveys leads us with increasing certainty from Irvin to a merchant, Thomas Brook Hodgkin, who sold the house in 1768 to shipwright John Carty, who sold it three years later to John Sands, a mariner.

Since then, the old home has passed down through seven generations of John Sands' descendants to the present owners.  While the house had colonial origins, it is not frozen in time.  Each generation left its mark, keeping some of the old - a door here, a mantel there - while adding new windows or floors along with fresh paint and plaster.  The architecture, which seldom strays far from its humble beginnings, records the relentless flow of time. That record warranted inclusion of the house as an individual listing in the National Register of Historic Places, and its documentation by the Historic American Buildings Survey of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Perhaps of even greater significance than its age, is the fact that the "old home", as the family called it, was just that.  A home.  Even when John and Ann Sands operated the house as an ordinary, it was also a home for them and their five children.  It was there that they received the letter telling them that their oldest son, William, had been killed at the Battle of Long Island on August 27, 1776.  William's letter was still in the house when it was renovated in 1988, one of the more important pieces of evidence attesting to the apparent inability of John Sands and his descendants to ever throw anything away.  The importance of this family foible is the fact that those who lived for more than two hundred years at 130 Prince George Street left behind everyday sorts of things, things that seldom survive to tell us how ordinary people lived.  They offer a record of a family, but also give an account of the last two and a quarter centuries of day-to-day life in Annapolis.  The house and its contents are still telling their stories.