Elizabeth P. King, 84, decorator who helped restore Peabody Library

July 11, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Elizabeth P. King, a retired decorator who helped refurbish the George Peabody Library in downtown Baltimore, died Tuesday of pneumonia at Roland Park Place. The former Guilford resident was 84.

Born Elizabeth Davenport Plant in Macon, Ga., she attended Shorter College in Rome, Ga. During World War II, she was a mechanical drafter in an explosives assembly plant in Georgia.

In 1945, she married John T. King III, a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. executive and decorated World War II veteran. Mr. King died in 2001.

She opened a decorating business about 40 years ago and worked from her home. In the 1960s and 1970s, she served on the board of the Enoch Pratt Free Library and the Peabody Conservatory.

She helped plan a 1974 restoration of the historic George Peabody Library on Mount Vernon Place and worked to locate period-style gas lamps for its cast-iron library stacks. She also helped decorate a historic Bolton Hill residence at Park Avenue and Lanvale Street that houses the Family and Children's Services.

"She was artistic and practical," said her daughter, Elizabeth Leighton King Wheeler of Baltimore. "Having grown up in the Depression in the South, she took budgets seriously. She was not of the let's-throw-it-away generation."

Mrs. King also decorated numerous homes in Baltimore.

"She was known for her originality and blending historic and family furnishings with modern design," said her brother-in-law, Martin L. Millspaugh, a former Inner Harbor redevelopment official who lives in Baltimore. "Her designs were noted for the individuality of their fresh, bright colors. She would blend family-owned antiques and memorabilia with other pieces of art and fabrics which expressed the personality of their owners."

"Betty was interested in everything. She loved seeing about new things, and she had a keen sense of art. She recognized things that were appealing," said Dr. William R. Milnor, a friend for many years who lives in Harford County. "She had a great capacity for making friends. She often introduced people around who had just moved to Baltimore."

She was also a past board member of Preservation Maryland, the Maryland Committee for Stratford (Robert E. Lee Foundation) and Planned Parenthood of Maryland. She belonged to the 16 East Hamilton Street Club, the Mount Vernon Club and the Junior Leagues of Baltimore and Macon.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., where she was a communicant.

Survivors, in addition to her daughter, include a son, John Holmes King of Wilmington, N.C.; a brother, Graeme Dickerman Plant Jr. of Napa, Calif.; a sister, Meredith Plant Millspaugh of Baltimore; three grandchildren; and two step-grandchildren.

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