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John Lockwood McShane, retired architect and former Maryland Historical Society board president, dies

John Lockwood McShane was a past treasurer of the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
John Lockwood McShane was a past treasurer of the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

John Lockwood McShane, a retired architect who designed midcentury modern buildings and was a past president of what was then the Maryland Historical Society, died of congestive heart failure Nov. 13 at his home at the Broadmead Retirement Community. He was 93.

Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Colegate Owings McShane, a superintendent of Bethlehem Steel’s Sparrows Point plant, and his wife, Elizabeth Shannahan, an artist and homemaker.

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Mr. McShane attended Baltimore Polytechnic Institute but left the school to join the Army. He was stationed in West Germany.

He earned an architecture degree at Princeton University and got a master’s degree, also in architecture, after working at the office of Baltimore architect James R. Edmunds.

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Mr. McShane married Suzanne Belden Deeds in 1953. She gave three decades of volunteer work to the Greater Baltimore Medical Center and died in 2009.

In the 1950s he joined the New York City offices of McKim, Mead & White and Rogers and Butler Architects.

Mr. McShane returned to Baltimore in September 1959 and worked for architects Rogers, Taliaferro and Lamb.

He went into private practice in 1961 and had a series of partners, ending up with the firm Locke, Tyler, Jackson and McShane.

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Mr. McShane had a general practice consisting of schools, residences and retail establishments.

“He was part of the Princeton-trained midcentury modernist axis in Baltimore,” said Walter Schamu, an architect and official of the Baltimore Architecture Foundation. “John spoke his mind. He was direct.”

Mr. McShane was a past treasurer of the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

In 1962 he and his wife moved to Piney Hollow Farm in Upperco. They lived there until 1992 when they moved to another home on Falls Road.

In March 2003 they relocated to the Broadmead Retirement Community.

Mr. McShane served as board president of the Maryland Historical Society in the mid-1970s.

“John was the eldest former board president and continued to be a stalwart supporter of what is now the Maryland Center for History and Culture,” said Mark B. Letzer, president and CEO of the Maryland Center for History and Culture. “He was also chair of our maritime committee.”

Mr. McShane served on various boards, including one for Ladew Topiary Gardens, where he worked on the building and grounds committee.

“He and his friend John Robbins were in charge of overseeing the buildings and grounds in the early days of Ladew Foundation. He always came to the meetings with his bow tie. He did not suffer fools. If you cowed easily, you were toast,” said Emily Emerick, Ladew executive director.

Mr. McShane was a member of the Green Spring Valley Hounds and was an accomplished horseman and fox hunter.

He suffered a fall while riding and fractured his collarbone. When healed, he continued to ride. He also broke his leg in 11 places while skiing. He also returned to that pastime.

Mr. McShane owned a dapple-gray thoroughbred, Colonel Muggins.

He enjoyed hunting for game birds, and trout fishing. A cabinetmaker, he built a reproduction of a late-17th/early-18th century highboy.

Mr. McShane was a student of maritime history and focused on the 18th and 19th century vessels and wooden yachts before the advent of fiberglass. He also constructed three small rowing craft, two from kits and one from a set of plans.

He was a member of the Valleys Planning Council, Ladew Topiary Gardens, the Maryland Club, Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, Green Spring Valley Hounds and the Center Harbor Yacht Club in Brooklin, Maine, where he spent part his summers. He subscribed to Bachelors Cotillon.

Mr. McShane was a founding member of the board of the Valley School.

“John was resilient,” said Peggy Thorne, a friend. “He never gave up. He was intellectually curious, and as a 90-year-old he wanted to learn how to use an iPhone.”

Services will be at 11 a.m. Dec. 15 at St. John’s Episcopal Church Western Run Parish on 3738 Butler Road.

He is survived by his wife, Joan Smith Eastman, whom he married in 2012; two daughters, Kathleen “Kathie” McShane Emge of Millers and Lee McShane Cox of Steamboat Springs, Colorado; a son, J. Lockwood McShane, also of Steamboat Springs; a sister, Ann McShane Curtis of Atlanta; two stepsons, Gerard “Gerry” Eastman of Long Island and Jay Eastman of Owings Mills; a stepdaughter, Betsy Vaughn of San Diego; and nine stepgrandchildren.

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