Jean C. Fulton, an artist who worked in watercolors and metal, and with her husband transformed the derelict Monkton Hotel into a venue for artists and vendors, died Sunday of multiple organ failure at Sinai Hospital.
The one-time Monkton and Tuscany-Canterbury resident was 79.
The daughter of Wallace Oles and Charlotte Lehman Oles, Jean Carolyn Oles was born in Baltimore and raised on Enfield Road in Homeland. The family had founded the Oles Envelope Co. in 1912.
After graduating from Bryn Mawr School in 1951, she attended Goucher College. In 1953, she married Donald Cameron Miller, a Baltimore architect, who died a decade later, leaving her to raise her two young children.
She was married in 1966 to David Hedleston Fulton, who was president of Plantabbs Corp. The couple lived on Elmhurst Road in Roland Park for many years.
Mrs. Fulton returned to college in the early 1970s, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1976.
In 1977, she and her husband purchased the long-closed, three-story brick Monkton Hotel. The building, which had also been an inn dating to the 1840s, sat aside the Pennsylvania Railroad's Baltimore-York line.
The couple renovated the old structure, which at one time had served as the village post office, living in half of it and, once completed, renting the other half for use as artists' studios, a general store and a bicycle shop.
Mrs. Fulton established her own studio, Juxtapose, in the rear of the building, where she also gave art classes and instruction.
She preferred working in watercolors and liked painting large abstract paintings based on the scenery she found in walks along the nearby Gunpowder Falls. She also learned to weld and created whimsical abstract pieces that incorporated old farm implements that she found abandoned near the hotel.
"She learned how to make paper and used it often as a base for her paintings, loving the way the texture of the paper enhanced and altered the watercolors with which she painted," said her daughter, Clarke Cameron Miller Fitzmaurice of Hampden. "Each time I visited, there seemed to be a new piece [metal sculpture] gracing the public parking lot next to the hotel."
Penn-Central, successor company to the Pennsylvania Railroad, abandoned the Baltimore-York trackage in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972, which severely damaged the line. It was converted in 1984 into the Northern Central Railroad Trail.
"During those years, the hotel became quite the neighborhood mecca, and with the opening of the NCR Trail, there was spurred development in the village of Monkton," said Ms. Fitzmaurice.
"In the summer, it seemed as festive and crowded as the Ocean City boardwalk, with throngs of people visiting the general store for soft drinks and ice cream before and after renting tubes for floating down the Gunpowder at the bike shop," she said.
"I think it got to the point that the hotel became a little too much for them. Even though it was hard for them to do, they came to the realization that it had become more than they could handle, and that's why they decided to move back to town," said Ms. Fitzmaurice. "They were getting older, and the general upkeep on the hotel was a becoming a bit too much."
After selling the hotel in 2002, the couple moved to the city's Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood. She and her husband were subscribers to the Baltimore Opera Company, Baltimore Symphony and Center Stage.
Mr. Fulton died in 2008, and two years later Mrs. Fulton moved to Springwell Senior Living in Mount Washington.
In addition to her devotion to her artwork, Mrs. Fulton was a dog lover.
She was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday.
In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Fulton is survived by a son, Donald Cameron Miller Jr. of Reisterstown; a stepson, Richard H. Fulton of Charlotte, N.C.; and seven grandchildren. Another stepson, David D. Fulton, died in 1991.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun