Stanley L. Crain, an architect and partner in the Pikesville firm of Harrison & Crain who spent more than five decades designing educational and religious institutions, died Tuesday from lymphoma at his son’s home in Wilmington, Delaware. The former Owings Mills resident who lived in Boca Raton, Florida, was 87.
Stanley L. Crain, son of Maurice Cohen, a contractor, and Fay Cohen, a homemaker, was born and raised in Philadelphia, where he graduated from Olney High School, and was a track star.
“As a young boy, his father had him draw his plans,” said a daughter, Amy S. Crain of Wilmington. She is an architect who had been a partner in her father’s firm.
After graduating from high school, Mr. Crain graduated first in his class at Penn State University in 1958 where he earned a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering, and then obtained a master’s degree in 1959 in engineering and construction from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He changed his surname to Crain when he came to Baltimore in 1961. There he began his career as a construction supervisor for Baltimore Contractors, who was building the old Civic Center, which is now today’s Baltimore Arena.
From 1961 to 1963, Mr. Crain worked for Meyer & Ayers before joining architect David Harrison in 1963. The two partners established Harrison & Crain Architects, which was then located at 22nd and St. Paul streets in Charles Village. After his daughter joined the firm in the 1990s, they relocated to Pikesville after renovating a house on Church Lane.
In 1962, Mr. Crain married the former Sondra Harrison, his partner’s daughter.
“He spent his entire adult life working in Baltimore and contributing to the fabric of the city and its surrounding counties,” Ms. Crain said.
During his lengthy career, Mr. Crain designed private commissions and public buildings. He worked for Baltimore Public Schools where he renovated and designed numerous schools, such as Windsor Hills Elementary School and Glenmount Elementary and Middle School.
Ms. Crain made her architectural debut when she worked with her father on the design of the $8.6 million Ashburton Elementary and Middle School located on Hilton Road, whose students came from the Ashburton and East Arlington neighborhoods.
At the school’s dedication in 1998, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke called the redbrick rectangular building “the Camden Yards of schools,” reported The Sun.
Ms. Crain told the newspaper that the school’s design was “contemporary, with a classical feel.”
“I love architecture, but what makes it really special is that I get to spend the day with my father,” she said.
“He came to life when he was doing architecture and he knew the business inside and out,” Ms. Crain said in a telephone interview. “He had an innate ability when it came to problems and solving them. He was interested in challenges and would sit down and work them out.”
Other design work included many of the buildings at Ner Israel Rabbinical College, The Talmudical Academy and the Bais Yaakov School for Girls, all of which are in Pikesville. He designed the old Morgan State University which was later replaced.
His range went from designing a Good Humor ice cream plant on Windsor Avenue in Northwest Baltimore to catering facilities such as Martin’s West and Martin’s Crosswinds.
“My father and I worked with Stan Crain for 50 years,” said Judith A. Carroll, president of Carroll Engineering, which was established by her father. “He was good to work with and very knowledgeable and knowledgeable about all kinds of buildings. He was conscientious when it came to serving his clients and engaging with his engineering and building teams.”
She added: “He was friendly and had good working relationships. He was extremely practical in terms of finding solutions for things and costs and looking for solutions that benefited building owners and everyone involved.”
In a biographical profile of her father, Ms. Crain wrote: “He was thought of as a true expert in his field. He had an innate understanding of how buildings were put together. He understood materials and methods of construction.
She continued: “He knew how to talk to his clients and make them feel confident in what they were embarking on. They were confident in his ability. He loved what he did and he loved helping people achieve what they wanted.”
Carolyn L. Popp was his longtime bookkeeper.
“He was a great architect who loved his family,” Ms. Popp said. “He was a great employer and taught me a lot, and I was glad that I had been able to work for him.”
The Morning Sun
Mr. Crain even designed his home, a roundhouse-shaped structure surrounded by a bucolic setting, in Velvet Valley in Owings Mills.
His last commission before retiring in 2017 and closing his practice was designing and renovating the old Summit Country Club on Old Pimlico Road near Pikesville. The country club, which had earlier been The Summit, a popular roadhouse in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, became the Bais Hamedrash & Mesivta of Baltimore, a college.
Mr. Crain was an avid tennis player who had a court at his Owings Mills home. It wasn’t uncommon for him to have a game in the morning and one in the afternoon, his daughter said. He was also an all-around sports fan who enjoyed basketball, football, boxing, the Orioles and the Ravens.
He also liked to travel.
Mr. Crain was a former member of Beth Tfiloh and Chizuk Amuno congregations.
Funeral services will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Temple Beth El at 333 SW 4th Ave. in Boca Raton.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Crain is survived by his wife of 60 years, a retired former Baltimore assistant state’s attorney; two sons, Dr. Evan H. Crain of Wilmington, and John S. Crain of Reisterstown; a brother, Norman Cohen of Philadelphia; and six grandchildren.