Christopher Weeks

The Baltimore Sun

Christopher H. C. Weeks, a former Harford County historic preservation planner who wrote numerous books detailing the Mid-Atlantic region's architectural heritage, died Thursday at his Bel Air home. He was 57.

Family members said he had been treated for severe diabetic complications.

Born in Schenectady, N.Y., he moved to Bel Air as a child and was a 1968 Bel Air High School graduate. He later earned bachelor's and master's degrees in architecture from the University of Virginia.

He spent a year studying law at Dickinson University but told friends that he found his studies boring, playing bridge and watching I Love Lucy reruns instead. They said he turned his attention toward preservation and architectural history, and did an internship with the National Trust in England.

With Bel Air attorney Broadnax Cameron Sr., he founded the Center for Palladian Studies in America and led symposiums in Europe, as well as in Annapolis and Charleston, S.C.

Mr. Weeks worked in conjunction with the Maryland Historical Trust in the 1970s and 1980s. He researched, photographed and wrote architectural histories of buildings in Maryland and often added stories of local color.

"To see him spend a day wandering the streets of Westminster, stopping to chat with this friend or dropping by to pay his respects to that matron, he might appear to have nothing in particular to do," said a 1979 Sun profile, which went on to discuss Mr. Weeks' research on 200 buildings in the Carroll County seat. The result was a book titled The Building of Westminster.

He later produced similarly detailed works on Washington, D.C., and Harford, Talbot, Caroline and Dorchester counties, as well as studies of the architects Alexander Cochran, who worked in Baltimore, and William Lawrence Bottomley, who designed Richmond, Va., homes and the River House apartments in Manhattan.

Mr. Weeks, who lived in Bolton Hill in the 1980s, was an enthusiastic gardener. Friends said he liked perennial borders.

"He dedicated his life to making beautiful spaces," said a lifelong friend, Susan Tobin. "He was an exceptional gardener and would try anything, and believed that more was more."

Mr. Weeks joined the Ladew Topiary Gardens consulting committee in 1985, and several years later was asked to write about its founder, Harvey Ladew. As Mr. Weeks began his research, he realized there was far more to the story.

"There's so much about him that it would be a shame not to get [it] into print," he said in a 1999 Sun interview. "I don't think he ever threw anything away -- that's a biographer's dream and nightmare."

That year, his Perfectly Delightful: The Life and Gardens of Harvey Ladew was published by the Hopkins Press.

Mr. Weeks was also a Harford County historic preservation planner.

"In passing, you'd see him buzzing all over Bel Air," said Todd Holden, a photographer and friend. "With his golden Bob Dylan hair, a clipboard and a sheaf of yellow legal paper, he would be intently focused on what he was doing."

A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Sept. 8 at St. Alban's Anglican Church, 1011 Old Joppa Road, in Joppa, where he was a communicant.

Survivors include his sister, Mary R. Ranneberger; and two nephews, Benjamin G. Ranneberger and Seth C. Ranneberger, all of Bel Air.

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