Phoebe B. Stanton, 88, advised city for decades on design issues

Phoebe B. Stanton, a retired art professor who guarded Baltimore's architectural taste during 33 years of speaking her mind on the city's Design Advisory Panel, died Wednesday of complications from heart disease and emphysema at Union Memorial Hospital. The Roland Park resident was 88.

A retired faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University, where she taught for 27 years, Dr. Stanton was a prolific writer, author and critic who was paid by the city to pass judgment on building projects. She last attended a Design Advisory Panel meeting in June.


"Baltimore has lost a real treasure," said Robert C. Embry Jr., who heads the Abell Foundation and as city housing commissioner hired Dr. Stanton as a consultant in 1970.

"She was a unique combination of someone who cared about the city's architecture and planning and was an expert. She was outspoken in her views. I can't imagine how we will replace her. She was a real hero of mine," Mr. Embry said.


Born in a Chicago suburb, Phoebe Baroody spent portions of her childhood in Lebanon. She earned her undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College and a master's degree from Radcliffe College. After graduate study at Stanford University, she earned a doctorate at Courtauld Institute of the University of London, where she studied with Nikolaus Pevsner, a British architectural historian.

In 1954, she moved to Chinquapin Parkway in Baltimore with her husband, Daniel J. Stanton, a planner and urban renewal administrator who died in 1966.

She lectured at Walters Art Gallery for a year and joined the Hopkins faculty in 1955. She also taught occasionally at Goucher College. She retired in 1982.

She won many academic honors, including a 1980 Distinguished Teaching of Art History Award from the College Art Association. She was praised for creativity in the classroom and "unfailing dedication to training the untutored eye."

"Goodness knows how many students and researchers she nurtured," said Elizabeth Shaaf, archivist of the Peabody Institute and friend. "She always had time for young people in the field seeking her guidance."

Dr. Stanton became involved with Baltimore planning and preservation issues in 1963 when she joined the city's new Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, set up to safeguard Mount Vernon Place. She served on the panel for five years.

She wrote 54 articles dealing with architecture, sculpture and city planning for Sunday arts sections of The Sun from 1971 to 1976. One of her articles, "A Jewel Casket Wing for the Walters Art Gallery," was awarded the 1975 A.D. Emmart Prize for writing in the humanities.

"She was nobody's fool. She was not afraid to criticize the most sacred cow project in the city. She was quite outspoken," said Albert Barry, a former student who is a planning consultant and president of the Citizens Planning and Housing Association board.


"She brought the trained eye of a renowned architectural historian. She constantly encouraged the many architects who came before the panel to produce the highest-quality work. She really had a world-class knowledge and understanding of design and cities."

Colleagues recalled her many years on the city's Design Advisory Panel, where she chain-smoked cigarettes and talked bluntly about projects on the drawing board. They recalled that she would say, "That is ugly," when something displeased her. Observers likened her to a Greek chorus or called her the conscience of the panel.

"She liked simple, elegant, rational design," said Robert Quilter, a friend who is a city Department of Planning architect. "I can hear her saying when she didn't like something, 'That's too fussy.'"

Dr. Stanton wrote two books, The Gothic Revival & American Church Architecture, An Episode in Taste 1840-1856, published by Johns Hopkins Press in 1968, and Pugin, on 19th-century British architect Augustus Pugin, published in 1971 by Thames and Hudson.

Plans for services were incomplete.

She is survived by a son, Michael Stanton, chairman of the department of architecture and design at the American University of Beirut.