Bryden B. Hyde, 87, architect who designed part of Museum of Art

January 02, 2002|By Laura Vozzella | Laura Vozzella,SUN STAFF

Bryden Bordley Hyde, a Baltimore architect who designed part of the Baltimore Museum of Art and installed many of the period rooms in its American Wing, died of a stroke Friday at his home on Gibson Island. He was 87.

An avid preservationist, Mr. Hyde moved houses the way other people do jigsaw puzzles, breaking them down into little bits and painstakingly putting them back together.

In 1961 he took apart his family's 22-room, mid-19th-century home, Evesham, and moved it from Govans to Gibson Island. When demolition threatened a Bladensburg mansion built in 1749 and once owned by Dr. David Ross, a surgeon in George Washington's army, Mr. Hyde helped dismantle it and rebuild it in Cockeysville. He stuck the 22,000 original bricks back together with mortar made with a historically accurate additive: oyster shells.

Both projects brought him awards from the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects, his family said.

"His specialty was historic preservation, and he probably is best known for the Leonard Crewe residence," said Richard S. Abbott of Arnold, an architect who worked for Mr. Hyde for about 12 years. He was referring to the Ross house, which Mr. Crewe owned at the time it was moved.

"That project, I believe, got him his fellowship in the AIA. It was nationally publicized," Mr. Abbott said. "He dismantled a historic house brick by brick and then had it rebuilt. ... From what I understand, there was only one light fixture, and that was over top a wing chair in the living room so the owner could read at night. Otherwise, it was all done by candlelight."

An avid collector of antiques, Mr. Hyde frequently stumbled onto great finds, whether he was on his way to a cousin's wedding or diving for cover in a World War II battle.

An infantry captain in the 8th Armored Division who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, Mr. Hyde came out of the war with a Bronze Star and a silver spoon. He spotted the latter along the border of Germany and Luxembourg, as an approaching enemy shell drove him out of his jeep and into a house.

As the oft-told family story goes, enemy fire got the jeep; he got the spoon.

"We've still got the spoon," said his wife of 53 years, the former Diana Caroline Smith. "It's a big berry spoon. He could antique in all circumstances."

Mr. Hyde didn't hesitate when something caught his eye. He proposed to his future wife on their first date. They were married a few months later.

Born at Evesham, the family home he later dismantled and rebuilt, Mr. Hyde graduated from Polytechnic Institute in 1933. He was president of his freshman class at Haverford College before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a master's degree in architecture in 1939.

Mr. Hyde showed artistic talent at a young age and helped pay his way through college by painting portraits, his wife said.

"The drawings he did of houses are just works of art, just beautiful workmanship," she said. "In his later years, he did a house and the owner turned copies of the drawings into wallpaper for his bathroom. He just thought it was so beautiful."

After the war, Mr. Hyde returned to architecture at the office of James R. Edmunds Jr. He became a partner in 1947 and president of the renamed Edmunds & Hyde Inc. in 1973. He retired in 1986 but continued working on residential architecture until the mid-1990s.

In 1968, Mr. Hyde designed the mezzanine of the American Wing of the Baltimore Museum of Art and installed a parlor, bed chamber and other historic exhibits, said William Voss Elder III, the museum's decorative arts curator during the project.

"It created more space above the existing period rooms on the main floor of the museum," Mr. Elder said. "It had previously been empty space under skylights. It was a very innovative idea."

Mr. Hyde also installed the "Oval Room" on the main floor. It represents a 1799 Baltimore country house.

Mr. Hyde designed the parish house and rectory at Old St. Paul's Church in Kent County and was on the team that restored Davidge Hall, the country's oldest medical school building, which is on the Baltimore campus of the University of Maryland. He did the original designs for Gibson Island Country School and Catonsville High School.

Mr. Hyde was a devoted correspondent who wrote a letter a day to some family member or friend, his wife said. They recalled his beautiful flowing script as much as the content of the letters. As he ran out of space on a piece of stationery, he'd cram more words into the borders, said a daughter, Anne Hyde Pedro of Bermuda.

"He would sign off `Love, Dad' and then have a P.S. that was a new letter unto itself," she said. "The end result was a wonderful mosaic of Dad's wonderful handwriting."

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Hyde is survived by another daughter, Elizabeth Bordley Gamble, and two sons, Stephen Bordley Hyde and Jonathan Hynson Hyde, all of Gibson Island; and eight grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at St. Christopher by the Sea Church on Gibson Island.

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