LeRoy Peddy, 92, made Green Spring Inn a popular restaurant and music venue

January 13, 1999|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

LeRoy Peddy, who helped turn a Lutherville roadhouse into the Green Spring Inn -- a private supper club that featured big bands of the 1940s -- died Monday of respiratory failure at Blakehurst Life Care Community in Towson.

The longtime Lutherville resident was 92.

During the Depression, Mr. Peddy and his brother, Ted, headed north from the Georgia dairy farm where they were raised for New York City. They never made it beyond Baltimore.

In 1936, after having worked as bartenders and in a White Coffee Pot diner, the Peddy brothers took over a busy Lutherville roadhouse located in a former two-story frame farm house that faced Falls Road. The business had been established by Charlie Mayo in 1934.

"For $2,500, they took over the nearly bankrupt bar and restaurant and turned it around," said Tom Peddy, a nephew who became a business partner after the death of his father, Ted, in 1965.

"They were so successful that they never put any more than the original $2,500 in the business and made money their first year," Mr. Peddy said. "It was a popular destination for the college crowd in those years and many people had their first drink there."

The inn burned to the ground in 1942 during World War II. After the brothers were discharged from the armed forces in 1946, they commissioned a New York architect to design an Art Deco inn with a distinctive rounded front that looked as if it belonged more in Miami Beach, Fla. than on Falls Road.

Because of shortages caused by the war, a relative in Georgia cut pine trees and shipped them to Baltimore for use in the inn's construction.

The private club, which eventually boasted 4,000 members, was open Tuesday to Sunday. Inside its large L-shaped dining room, which had a dance floor, crowds dined on prime rib and danced to the music of Guy Lombardo, Glenn Miller, Harry James, Count Basie and Tommy Dorsey.

Local dance bands and orchestras that played the inn for years included Carroll Kelly, Rae Girard, Bert Blizzard, Mel Sebode and Zim Zemarel.

Such notables as actress Dorothy Lamour, who was married to Baltimorean William Ross Howard, Spiro Agnew and Baltimore artist Stanislav Rembski were frequent guests during the inn's halcyon years.

Mr. Peddy, a balding man with glasses who favored tailor-made brown suits and exuded a quiet, courteous Southern manor, was popular with staffers and customers. He was in charge of the kitchen, dining room and food operation.

In late 1989, movie maker Barry Levinson used the inn to film several scenes in the feature film "Avalon."

At the inn's closing in 1989, Mr. Peddy lamented that its time had come and gone, and his customers, like him, had aged.

"He was very sad," said a daughter, Lori Peddy Spencer of Baldwin. "He was getting up in years and it was a responsibility he could no longer maintain."

Mr. Peddy was born and raised in Wrightsville, Ga., where he attended high school. He earned a bachelor's degree from Mercer College in Macon, Ga., in 1928. During World War II, he served with the Navy in South America.

In 1955, he married Mary Lou Myers, who died in 1980.

A memorial service for Mr. Peddy will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Calvary Baptist Church, 120 W. Pennsylvania Ave., Towson.

He is survived by another daughter, Lynn Peddy Wailes of Andover, Mass.; and two grandchildren.

Pub Date: 1/13/99

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