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Kelsey Y. Saint, 93, noted architect


Kelsey Y. Saint, a retired architect who worked on notable Baltimore buildings and was an industry leader in construction methods and materials, died of a systemic infection May 30 at the College Manor nursing home in Lutherville. The former Homeland resident was 93.

Born in Yakima, Wash., and raised in the District of Columbia, he would recall that as a child he "loved to draw." He studied architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology before graduating from Yale University in 1935.

Mr. Saint made $10 a week at his first job, answering the phone and sweeping floors at an architectural office.

During World War II, Mr. Saint served in the Army Air Corps and Marine Corps in India and on Tinian, the island used as the staging site for the atomic bomb missions over Japan. He was awarded the Bronze Star.

He moved to Baltimore in 1950 and joined the architectural firm of Buckler, Fenhagan, Myer and Ayers - now Ayers/Saint/Gross, where he retired nearly 30 years ago as a partner.

"I've never met a man who knew more about how a building went together," said Walter Schamu, an architect who worked with Mr. Saint in the 1970s.

Colleagues said that Mr. Saint used his knowledge of building materials and construction on Shriver Hall, the Newton White Athletic Center and the Milton S. Eisenhower Library on the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus. He also worked on a 1970s addition to the Walters Art Museum, and projects including the O'Conor State Office Building and the Loyola-Notre Dame Library.

His projects were as varied as the construction of artist Reuben Kramer's Bolton Hill studio and Har Sinai synagogue in Northwest Baltimore.

"After church on Sunday, my father would drive us out to Park Heights Avenue and we would all lie on the flooring while he checked to see if the circular dome were being installed correctly," his daughter, Condict Stevenson Martak of Monkton, said of the synagogue work.

She described her father as a "a Renaissance man," adding, "He knew a tremendous amount about a number of subjects. Last Christmas, he wanted subscriptions to The Economist and Foreign Affairs."

Colleagues said he was a mentor to young architects, who tapped his technical knowledge.

A 1965 Evening Sun article noted Mr. Saint's objection to architects donating heavily to politicians.

"An architect is asked to give money to a man in a position to return the favor," he said. "What does that mean to you? It's the most open, naked thing I've ever seen in my life."

As a young man, Mr. Saint studied art and painting. He spent summers with artists Ernest Thurn in Woodstock, N.Y., and Frank Swift Chase in Nantucket, Mass., and took classes at the Art Students League in New York and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington.

Mr. Saint maintained an interest in the arts. He traveled widely and photographed buildings and sites along the way. While listening to classical music, he wove cotton and linen on a four-harness loom. He also gardened.

In 1965, he became president of the Baltimore Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, which created an award for distinguished service in his name in 1980.

He was a founder of the Construction Specifications Institute and later received its highest award - lifetime membership.

An Episcopalian, he was a member of the Order of the Holy Cross and was active in committees of the Maryland Diocese.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Church of the Holy Comforter, 130 W. Seminary Ave. in Lutherville.

Survivors also include his wife of 67 years, the former Elizabeth Copley Marsh; two other daughters, Randy Goodrel Low of Monkton and Christine Copley Saint of Freeland; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

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