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Ted Pearson, award-winning interior designer, dies

Ted Pearson was a designer who worked at Rita St. Clair Associates on local landmarks.
Ted Pearson was a designer who worked at Rita St. Clair Associates on local landmarks. (Handout)

Ted Pearson, an interior designer who won awards for his work at the Octagon Center in Mount Washington, died of hypertension and cardiovascular disease on Feb. 23 at his Mount Vernon home. He was 66.

Ted Lawrence Pearson was born in Baltimore and raised on Lambeth Road in Catonsville. He was the son of Craven Pearre Pearson, an insurance agent, and his wife, Mary Catherine Hartzell. He was the nephew of Baltimore Sun artist James Hartzell, who drew the 1954 Oriole Bird that appeared on the newspaper’s front page.

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He attended St. Mark Parochial School and was a 1969 graduate of Catonsville Senior High School. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with honors from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

He initially worked as an intern with the Smithsonian Institution at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. He installed works by the artist Emmanuel Soto.

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In 1976 he joined the interior and architectural design firm Rita St. Clair Associates Inc. and became a vice president.

“Ted and I understood each other like we were born in the same egg. He was an extraordinary person,” said Ms. St. Clair. “He was a gifted and unusual designer. He could be a one-man team, doing the design, keeping up with purchase orders and overseeing the installation. He was also gifted in design detail and its production.”

Mr. Pearson won an American Institute of Architects Award for design excellence for work at the Octagon Center on the old United States Guaranty Company’s Mount Washington campus. The work involved outfitting a Victorian eight-sided structure, once part of the Mount St. Agnes College campus, with inlaid wood floors and other design elements.

“Ted was a talented professional designer,” said Joseph Bowers, a longtime colleague and friend. “He was outgoing and articulate and was a good talker. He was upfront with his clients and told them how it was and how it should be.

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“He was also a very hard worker,” Mr. Bowers added. “He worked late into the evenings and was ready early in the mornings when his clients called with great expectations for his work.”

Mr. Bowers, who also worked at Rita St. Clair Associates, recalled that Mr. Pearson made beautiful drawings and renderings. “His watercolors were lovely things,” he said.

He also did work at private residences, including that of athletic club owner Leroy Merritt. Mr. Pearson worked with Ms. St. Clair on the modern home over looking the Magothy River in Pasadena. In 1994 he received the Maryland Chapter of the American Institute of Interior Designers outstanding residential award for his work in the home.

Mr. Pearson also worked with Ms. St. Clair on design at Mercy Ridge Retirement Community, and also at a retirement community in Kobe, Japan. He also traveled with members of his design firm to furniture manufacturers in Italy who produced work for the company’s projects.

In 1988 he was quoted in The Sun regarding home decorating: “I like colors that make people look good. You can do wonders with pink or amber light bulbs.”

Friends recalled his sense of color — and also his loyalty to Baltimore. He was active in the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association, and often photographed the city’s architecture and its neighborhoods.

After leaving Rita St. Clair, he opened his own business. He completed work at a Silver Lake residence at Rehoboth Beach, Del., and late last year finished the Fellowship Hall at Grace United Methodist Church in Homeland.

Mr. Pearson, who was handy with plumbing and wiring, renovated old homes in Federal Hill and in Mount Vernon. At his death he had completed the renovation of his own residence at St. Paul and Madison streets, where he enjoyed entertaining friends with his own cooking. His favorite meal was a breakfast with Scrapple.

Plans for a life celebration are incomplete.

Survivors include his mother and a brother, Philip Christopher Pearson, both of Catonsville; and a friend, George A. Kahl of Ruxton. His marriage to Maureen Shannon Hayes ended in divorce.

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