Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), in his first public appearance since finishing his opening round of chemotherapy last week, unveiled the renovated Old Senate Chamber at the State House in Annapolis on Monday following an $8 million, eight-year makeover.
Hogan, who appeared slimmer and had shorter hair, was surrounded by staffers, members of his Cabinet and a few tourists as he opened the restored chamber to the public for the first time.
“It’s very historically significant,” Hogan said of the reconstructed gallery and the architectural details that take the room back to the late 18th century. “It’s a big, big deal. We hope it’s going to attract more people to Annapolis.”
The unveiling of the Old Senate Chamber was the first public event Hogan has held since returning to work at the State House on Thursday after undergoing five days of round-the-clock chemotherapy at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The governor, who said he continued to work while in the hospital, returned to the State House a day after he was discharged from the hospital.
Wearing a lime-green bracelet for non-Hodgkins lymphoma awareness that read #hoganstrong, Hogan said he felt “pretty strong,” considering the multi-day treatment he received. He has not experienced any nausea or pain, he said.
“I’m not sick . . . I feel pretty good,” the governor said. “A lot of people were expecting me to look more beat up than I am. . . . I’m a little bit tired. I don’t have all the energy that I used to, but half of my energy is usually twice as much as most people.”
The audience laughed, much like when Hogan announced his cancer diagnosis with flourishes of humor.
The event was not on Hogan’s schedule, and it came as a surprise to House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert), who were not given any notice that a formal announcement was being made.
Neither attended the opening, despite their longtime efforts to restore the chamber.
Standing just a few feet from a bronze statue of George Washington, who returned his military commission to Congress in the chamber on Dec. 23, 1783, Hogan said that the Old Senate Chamber is significant to the birth of the nation and that opening it back to the public was a historic event in itself. The Maryland State House served as the Capitol of the United States from November 1783 until August 1784.
The public has not had access to the Old Senate Chamber for two years.
Since then, all the windows have been replaced. The floor was returned to period flooring of heart pine. All of the plaster was removed from the walls to expose the original brickwork, according to the Maryland State Archives.
Outside the chamber, tourists can listen to a five-minute recording that describes the history of the room.
“They said if George Washington walked into this room today, he would know exactly that he was in the same room” where he resigned his Continental Army commission, Hogan said. “This is America’s history.”