Louise K. Lantz was so fascinated by old eggbeaters, toasters and just about anything found in decades-old kitchens she published guide books to what she considered rare but everyday objects.
She died of kidney failure Sept. 29 in a home in Hydes in Baltimore County, where she had built a replica 18th Century hearth and oven. She was 89.
Her 1970 book, “Old American Kitchenware 1725-1925” recorded her research into everyday objects.
“Mrs. Lantz has amassed nearly 3,000 pieces since she began collecting 30 years ago,” said a 1981 Sun story. “Among her favorite pieces [is] an 1896 nutmeg grater which she still uses.”
On a trip to New England years ago, she found what an antique shop owner though was a pair of tweezers. It turned out to be a rare strawberry huller.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Ponca Street and later in Hamilton, she was the daughter of Nicholas Kalaman and his wife, Ann. She was a 1948 graduate of Eastern High School. While going to classes one day, she met her future husband.
“We were on the No. 15 streetcar,” said Curtis E. Lantz, who is now retired from the Air Force and later taught in the Harford County and Baltimore City schools systems. "She was the most beautiful girl I ever saw and I was a Poly [Baltimore Polytechnic Institute] boy."
He said that his wife, in her years living on Hamilton Avenue, visited a neighbor’s home that was partially constructed around an early Baltimore County log cabin.
“She was fascinated by the wide plank boards in the floor,” her husband said. “It’s what started her interest in old kitchens.”
Mrs. Lantz went on to study interior design at the University of Maryland College Park and was a graduate of the Walter’s Academy of Modeling in downtown Baltimore. She appeared in fashion shows at the old Hutzler’s department store. She later earned a bachelor’s degree in art at Goucher College and became a slide librarian in its arts department.
“We have been best friends since our days at Hamilton Junior High School,” said Becky Kekenes Darwin. “I considered her to be my sister. We loved to shop at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center annual sale. We lined up early. Louise loved the jewelry treasures. We would also shop along Baltimore’s Antique Row and along Charles Street downtown. Then we would have lunch at the Woman’s Exchange.”
She married June 9, 1951 in Baltimore and traveled with her husband to Air Force bases in Massachusetts and Germany.
After settling in Hydes, Mrs. Lantz and her husband went on weekend antique buying trips to locate what were then little known kitchen implements. She became so immersed in collecting she wrote a hand book, “Price Guide to Old American Kitchenware." She revised the work several times and discussed the relative rarity of apple parers, cherry stoners, cabbage cutters, coffee grinders, mashers, toasters, sifters, strainers, ice picks and butter churns.
She and her husband built a home in 1966. They copied its kitchen fireplace from one at Gunston Hall, a 1759 home in Mason Neck, Virginia.
“My grandmother loved to host parties, cook outs and Sundays dinners for her family and friends," said her granddaughter, Brittany Welsh, also of Baltimore County. “Over the years she and my grandfather designed and created beautiful gardens and structures throughout their 43 acres. They made a colonial carriage house and a brick garden house with working forge.”
In interviews with Baltimore Sun reporters, Mrs. Lantz said how much pleasure her large rose garden gave her. She said that she never gave up her former experience as a fashion model entirely and enjoyed going to antique shows wearing her favorite Ralph Lauren blouse and antique costume jewelry she acquired.
“I use my creative instincts, my collections and my past experience as a fashion model to create a sort of ‘found object’' style of dressing,” she said in a 1990 Sun article.
In the article, she discussed her collection of costume jewelry. She said she refinished a 1920s dental cabinet to hold her collection.
Mrs. Lantz wrote numerous articles on antiques, gardening, table settings and kitchenware. She gave talks at Goucher College and Loyola University of Maryland. She was a consultant to TimeLife Books and Baltimore’s old Peale Museum.
In addition to her husband of 69 years and granddaughter, survivors include a son, Mark Lantz of Hydes; a daughter, Monica Lantz Hauswald of Glen Arm; a grandson; and two great-grandchildren.