Lawrence Barrett Holdridge, 88, founded hydraulic firm

September 05, 1998|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Lawrence Barrett Holdridge, founder of a hydraulic equipment company and collector of decorative arts, died of heart failure Tuesday at his historic home near Owings Mills. He was 88.

A self-taught engineer, he established Holdridge Engineering in 1941. Its specialties included measuring devices and gauges. He retired in 1991 after selling the business to Hydratech Inc.

Mr. Holdridge was known for his urbanity and wit, as well as his interest in the arts, music and antique collecting.

Mr. Holdridge and his wife of 38 years, the former Barbara Cohen, a publisher and co-founder of Caedmon Records, lived in historic Stemmer House since 1973. Built in 1751, the mansion -- which is on the National Historic Register -- was moved brick by brick to its Green Spring Valley site from Philadelphia Road in 1930.

Earlier, the couple restored and turned the old Ashland Chapel in the restored Colonial village of Dickeyville into a home. The former Methodist church and Quaker meetinghouse became a setting for the results of the couple's collecting mania.

In 1958, Mr. Holdridge and his wife became interested in American folk art and began collecting the works of Ammi Phillips. In 1968, they wrote "Ammi Phillips: Portrait Painter 1788-1865," published by Clarkson N. Potter. In 1994, they lent paintings for an exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum in New York.

Mr. Holdridge enjoyed writing poetry and wrote his "Symphony in B Minor Pathetique: The Passion of Peter Ilitch Tchaikovsky, Confession for Narrator and Orchestra," a narrative poem published in 1978.

"He had a fine aesthetic sense and was an extremely interesting person," said Gladys Goldstein, a Baltimore abstract painter and friend for more than 30 years.

Born in New York City and reared in Albany, N.Y., he was a descendant of Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman and Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant. He moved to Baltimore in 1923 and graduated in 1928 from City College.

His marriage to the former Alice Beierlein ended in divorce.

Services will be private.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by twin daughters, Eleanor Holdridge of New Haven, Conn., and Diana Holdridge of Los Angeles.

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Pub Date: 9/05/98

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