In the early 1800s, Lucy Smith (Aunt Lucy) was the first African American female to rent and operate a bake shop at the Annapolis, Maryland Market House.
Once established at the City Market House, Aunt Lucy’s rented stall, Number 9, was always busy with customers. Whenever a big social event was planned to take place in the city, the venue would be certain to include catering services and delicacies from Aunt Lucy’s. Local legend states that Lucy gained a considerable reputation for the “choice morsels that her art divined in the kitchen.” Records show she rented space at the City Market House for at least seven consecutive years for $7 a year and later ran her business at the corner of Main and Green Streets in Annapolis.
“Aunt Lucy” and her husband John Smith, along with their family, all free persons of color, lived within nearby walking distance of her City Market House business. Her home address on 160 Prince George’s Street is known today as the Patrick Creagh House, having been constructed by Mr. Creagh between 1735 and 1747. Both the Patrick Creagh House and a newer version of the Annapolis City Market House continue to function today in the 21st century.
It is not unusual to find Lucy and John Smith’s residence also being called “Aunt Lucy’s Bake Shop” by some of the early 20th century historians and local Annapolis tour guides. They likely referred to her “Creagh House” residence as “Aunt Lucy’s Bake Shop” because this is where Aunt Lucy probably began her baking career. The 1798 Federal Direct Tax records list Mr. Absalom Ridgely as landholder of the Patrick Creagh House. Ridgely is assessed for property on Prince George’s Street which includes both a brick dwelling house and a one-story brick kitchen, with John Smith listed as the tenant.
Lucy’s entrepreneurial acumen, along with that of her husband’s successful livery stable and transport service businesses, showed ongoing success. As early as 1806, Mr. Ridgely agreed to sell the home where John and Lucy resided to them for $600. The sale was not completed until 1820 due to Mr. Ridgely’s death after the offer was made. In the 1820 U.S. Census John and Lucy had a total household size of 5 people. More than thirty years later, in 1852, John and Lucy Smith’s son and daughter-in-law became the new owners of the home. We attribute Lucy’s lifetime achievements to her hard work and smart business practices.