When the visiting hordes of summer devour close-in attractions like so many chocolate Goobers and want something different--like, say, Annapolis--well, that's fine. Except that you were there just last weekend (with Aunt Jewel and Uncle Walter).
Don't despair. There's more to the place than the village-in-a-bottle tourist shops and restaurants. The Hammond-Harwood House, just a couple of blocks from the statehouse at 19 Maryland Ave., is widely considered to be one of the most spectacular examples of colonial Georgian architecture, and one of the last. It was built on the eve of American independence, between 1774 and 1775 by Matthias Hammond, a young lawyer and patriot who had recently been elected to the Provincial Assembly and needed a residence suitable for entertaining the cognoscenti of the day. The intricate wood carvings in the door and window frames are worth a visit in themselves--genius, though the craftsman is unknown.
Ironically, Hammond never lived in the house, possibly because he failed in a reelection bid and because the war made construction of the home impossible to complete. Now it contains a trove of American and English period pieces, paintings and artifacts. The docents are well-informed, and tours last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4. The last tour starts around 3. Admission is $4.
--Lee Murphy, Washington
Truckin' On Out for Tofu
Something about this grocery store says you aren't in the neighborhood Giant anymore, Toto. Maybe it's the worn wooden floors that would be at home in a rural general store, or the staff straight out of an ancient Whole Earth Catalog. Or the picture of a pig above the door with the caption, "Our Founder."
The Glut food co-op in Mount Rainier is the real deal, a time warp into the '60s, a participatory store where you bring jars to fill with such staples as honey, molasses, olive oil, maple syrup or peanut butter. Bring bags for the selection of teas, herbs and spices varied enough to bring out the natural healers, but labeled with a disclaimer, a request not to ask the Glut staff for medical advice. One attraction is the bucket in the refrigerator case where you grab a block of fresh tofu with a pair of tongs and plop it into a bag to take home for supper.
For aging hippies, this will be a trip down memory lane. For confirmed urbanites, it's an education. You'll see homesteaders making the annual trek in from West Virginia to bulk-order 50-pound sacks of flour and other staples to get through the next year. Occasionally you hear a sales clerk yell out "Feed the meters!" to warn customers that the ever-vigilant parking police are roaming 34th Street.
Long after you take home your box of groceries, you will be reminded of the experience by the motto on one of the bags: "Still cheap, still funky."
The Glut is at 4005 34th St., Mount Rainier, Md.; call 301-779-1978.
--Ralph Bucca, Huntingtown
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CAPTION: The Hammond-Harwood House, built for a patriot on the eve of Independence.