Some Recent Background on the Annapolis Capital

The Annapolis Capital was founded in 1884. Its sister paper, the Maryland Gazette, was founded in 1727 and is one of the country’s oldest newspapers.

In 1967, the Capital was sold by Elmer Jackson Jr., a local owner, to Philip Merrill, who left the State Department to become its owner and publisher. While in college, Phil had been an editor of the Cornell Sun and early in his career he had worked with television journalist Mike Wallace as a researcher so his love for journalism was not new.

The Capital grew rapidly under Phil as he improved its editorial side while maintaining its focus on local news. It also grew on the advertising side—it was just far enough away from Baltimore and Washington that area chain stores ran ads in the Capital as well as the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun.

To buy the Capital, Phil had needed more money than he had or could borrow and several Washingtonians, including columnist Jack Anderson, helped him buy the paper. As the Capital grew, the New York Times wanted to buy it and the minority investors wanted to sell. To keep control, Phil went to Landmark Newspapers in Norfolk, Virginia, and Landmark became Phil’s partner.

Landmark also was Phil’s partner when he bought the Washingtonian magazine from Laughlin Phillips in 1979. Loc Phillips had started the Washingtonian in 1965; it was one of the country’s first city magazines.

Under Phil, the Washingtonian and the Annapolis Capital were very successful on both the editorial and business sides.

Phil died in 2006, and in 2007 the Merrill family and Landmark agreed that the Merrills would own the Washingtonian and Landmark would own the Capital. In 2014 Landmark sold the Capital to the Baltimore Sun, its current owner. The Merrill family continues to own the Washingtonian with Phil’s daughter, Cathy Merrill Williams, the publisher.

Phil and his family lived in Annapolis, and the Capital always had an annual summer picnic for its employees and the Washingtonian staff. It was at an Annapolis area park with lots of games for children and good Chesapeake Bay food. In a way, we lived in different worlds but Phil brought us together and now we all grieve for the five Capital staffers who were senselessly murdered on Thursday.
Several people have asked if E.B. Furgurson III, a writer and editor at the Capital, is related to Ernest B. “Pat” Furgurson, the longtime Baltimore Sun bureau chief in Washington. The answer is yes, father and son.
For more on the history of the Annapolis Capital and Baltimore Sun this story was posted yesterday by the Sun.


  1. Richard Mattersdorff says

    Thank you for this history and for the link to additional history.

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