E.R. Marcks, 89, architect who designed movie house

February 11, 1997|By William E. Thompson Jr. | William E. Thompson Jr.,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

E. Russell Marcks, a Baltimore architect who designed "Mr. Blandings' dream house" for a Hollywood movie and once urged the city to build a futuristic stadium with movable sections, died of lung cancer Feb. 2 at Manor Care nursing home on Falls Road. He was 89.

In May 1945, citing the inadequacies of fixed-seat stadiums to meet the needs of baseball and football, Mr. Marcks developed a plan for a downtown stadium with two large, wheeled seating sections on buried tracks. The sections were to be shifted to create a rectangular shape for football and triangular for baseball.

At the time, the city was holding a design competition for a stadium to replace Oriole Park on 29th Street, which had burned. Mr. Marcks did not enter the contest, but his design was widely discussed. The city rejected all of the submitted plans and built Memorial Stadium.

For 32 years, Mr. Marcks was a partner in the firm of Jamison & Marcks. His work focused primarily on residential design -- which drew recognition from Hollywood.

In MGM's 1949 film, "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House," the home was designed by Mr. Marcks. A Baltimore version of the house was built at 7111 Bellona Ave. in Ruxton to promote the film that starred Cary Grant and Myrna Loy.

Bryden Hyde, a retired architect who worked with Mr. Marcks in the 1930s and 1940s, recalled a particularly difficult job for which his colleague served on an archdiocesan committee trying to make a brick rectory building blend with the older stone of the zTC historic Basilica of the Assumption at Charles and Mulberry streets.

"He thought of putting Formstone on it -- it sounded pretty bad to me -- but he mixed it to match the color of the old stone on the cathedral and put it on the rectory, and it tied in. I don't know how many people know that."

A Baltimore native, Mr. Marcks graduated from Calvert Hall College. He took up architecture at age 19, beginning with a course offered through the Charcoal Club, an association of artists founded in 1883, at the old Beaux-Arts Institute of Design in New York.

He was a longtime member of the Charcoal Club, and its president in 1968.

Mr. Marcks was a member of the Vagabond Players community theater group and designed sets for the group. He served as president of the Powder and Paint Club, a charity organization, in the late 1950s, and was a member of Baltimore Country Club.

Professionally, Mr. Marcks belonged to the American Institute of Architects. In 1945, he was elected president of the Maryland Society of Architects.

A Mass of Christian burial was offered Feb. 4 at SS. Philip and James Roman Catholic Church on Charles Street.

Mr. Marcks, a bachelor, is survived by seven nieces and nephews.

Pub Date: 2/11/97

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