Michael Frederick Trostel, 67, architect whose projects included Old St. Paul's


Michael Frederick Trostel, a noted historic preservation architect, died Monday of cancer at Maryland General Hospital. The Bolton Hill resident was 67.

He restored or adapted for reuse about 40 structures in Maryland, including Easton's Third Haven Friends Meeting House and Old St. Paul's Rectory in Baltimore.

"He was, in so many people's minds, the epitome of an historic preservation architect. No one knew more about historical architecture in Maryland than Michael Trostel," Walter Schmau, a Baltimore architect and architectural historian, said yesterday.

In 1992, the National Trust for Historic Preservation gave Mr. Trostel a National Honor Award -- one of the country's highest honors for preservation work -- in recognition of the six-year, $500,000 restoration of Third Haven Meeting House.

Built between 1682 and 1684, it is the oldest surviving structure in Maryland and one of the oldest frame houses of worship in the country.

Other projects that Mr. Trostel worked on included:

The 1983 restoration of Davidge Hall on the campus of the University of Maryland at Baltimore, the first medical school building in the United States.

Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church, a Baltimore landmark that dates to 1856. The $500,000 project in the early 1990s included reinforcing the chancel floor, regilding an arched ceiling and replastering an outdoor loggia.

The Robert Long House, the oldest surviving residence in Fells Point, which dates to 1765.

"The reason the Robert Long House was important was because it gave Fells Point a focus," said partner W. Peter Pearre, an associate since 1988.

At the time of Mr. Trostel's death, they were working on the Enoch Pratt House at 201 W. Monument St.; Almodington, a brick plantation house built in 1750; a Fells Point brick-merchant's house; and the Captain's House, a second house near the main house at Wye House near Easton.

He also was working on Wye House, which dates to about 1750 and is lived in by the 11th generation of the Lloyd family. Wye House is a National Historic Landmark.

They were converting the Captain's House into a retirement residence for its owner, Mary Donnell Singer Tilghman, and her husband, Dr. R. Carmichael Tilghman.

Attention to detail and research became the hallmark of Mr. Trostel's success and accounted for his being in demand.

"You put yourself back in the past -- it's like a historical novel. You have to think about how people would have done things then," he told The Sun in a 1980 interview.

He immersed himself in the historic background of a structure. He combed the Hall of Records in Annapolis, studied documents and examined a structure beam by beam, wall by wall. With all the assiduousness of an FBI agent, he examined paint samples and wood paneling.

"And then he would start the work," said Mr. Pearre.

To the faint of heart, a termite-ridden structure that might be worth nothing more than a death by bulldozer offered a constructive challenge to Mr. Trostel, who saw resurrection rather than destruction.

He was born in Forest Park and raised there and in Dickeyville, where his interest in restoring old buildings was stimulated.

A graduate of Polytechnic Institute, he earned a master's degree in architecture in 1957 from the University of Pennsylvania. Because of his love for old buildings, a dean at Penn advised him to quit architecture.

Mr. Trostel began his career at Taylor and Fisher in Baltimore in 1958. He later worked for Fisher, Nes, Campbell & Partners and the firm of James R. Edmunds.

From 1973 to 1981, when he opened his firm in his 1894 Bolton Hill residence, he was a vice president of Edmunds & Hyde, architects and planners.

Mr. Trostel lectured and wrote widely on Maryland architecture, including "Mount Clare, Being an Account of the Seat Built by Charles Carroll, Barrister Upon His Lands at Patapsco," published in 1989.

Plans for services were incomplete yesterday.

He is survived by a brother, Louis J. Trostel Jr. of Princeton, Mass.; and three nephews.

Pub Date: 2/03/99

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