Fred W. Miller Jr., 91, Kingsville Inn owner

February 07, 2002|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Fred W. Miller Jr., an owner of the old Kingsville Inn and member of the family that ran a fabled Fayette Street restaurant in Baltimore, died Sunday of a circulation ailment at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium, where he had lived for three years. He was 91.

A son of one of the two founders of Miller Brothers Restaurant, he grew up observing the downtown Baltimore institution, which advertised itself as "The place to eat" and offered German and Maryland cooking, especially Chesapeake Bay seafood.

"At the time, it was one of the premier restaurants in Baltimore," said Roland Slimmer, a Brooklandville neighbor. "He was proud of his heritage and his family's contributions."

His daughter, Frances Ann Merryman of Brooklandville, said: "In 1963, when the downtown restaurant was about to close, my father took me to Fayette Street and said, `A piece of local history is going to die. And it did.'"

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Miller was a 1927 graduate of the old Franklin Day School, operated at the YMCA Building at Franklin and Cathedral streets, several blocks from the family restaurant.

After the 1931 death of his father, Frederick W. Miller Sr., he and his mother, Maud Miller, withdrew from the downtown business. They later opened the Kingsville Inn, a 150-seat fieldstone tavern and restaurant on Belair Road that flourished until he retired and the business closed in 1970. The property is now a funeral home.

Traditional Miller Brothers fare - including crab imperial and crab cakes - were on the Kingsville menu. His brother, John Henry Miller, who lives in Wyoming, worked at the inn, as did his sister, Frances LeCompte, who lives in Towson and was the weekend hostess.

"The Kingsville Inn was popular and there were overflow crowds on Friday and Saturday nights," Mrs. LeCompte said. "It was furnished with antiques and the bar was paneled in chestnut."

Family members said Mr. Miller tended bar and created a drink he received a patent for - an Ice Glass. He used refrigeration to fashion a glass entirely of ice. It held alcoholic spirits.

"I can't say how successful the thing was," said Mr. Miller's daughter. "It was totally his idea but it never made it."

About 35 years ago, Mr. Miller gave up his driver's license and began riding a bike - often from his home in Govans to Kingsville. Along the way he waved to friends and family members. He said he never missed driving a car. He later moved to his daughter's home.

In 1951, Mr. Miller married Barbara Ann Appel. She died in 1990.

In addition to his daughter, sister and brother, he is survived by a granddaughter, Barbara Ann Merryman.

Services will be private.

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