Mary `Mollie' Brent Lucas, 75, interior decorator, antiques dealer

December 14, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Mary "Mollie" Brent Lucas, a retired interior designer and antiques dealer who raised funds for Johns Hopkins Hospital, died of a stroke Wednesday at Union Memorial Hospital. The Tuscany-Canterbury resident was 75.

Mary Brent Johnston was born in Baltimore and raised in Charlcote House in Guilford. She attended Calvert and Bryn Mawr schools, and was a 1947 graduate of St. Timothy's School, the year she made her debut at the Bachelors Cotillon.

Mrs. Lucas was a relative of Margaret Brent, the 17th-century Maryland lawyer. She also was related to William Wyman and Samuel Keyser, who assembled and donated the grounds of the Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus and Wyman Park.

She spent some of her childhood in New York City and Southampton, Long Island, where she later befriended the Baltimore-born Billy Baldwin, an interior decorator, and fashion designer Bill Blass. Family members said she often wore clothes designed by Mr. Blass. She counted them among the influences on her design career.

For more than a decade, Mrs. Lucas was a member of the Women's Board of the Johns Hopkins Hospital and raised funds for the institution. She and another volunteer conceived and established an annual sale of Christmas gifts to benefit Hopkins.

"That event burgeoned into the Carriage House sale," said Mary Washington Marr, a cousin, speaking of a continuing annual sale held at Evergreen House on Charles Street. "She was quite an innovator."

In 1979 Mrs. Lucas and three other women founded Charlotte's Web, a Baltimore County decorating business housed in Monkton Hall on Monkton Road.

"She had extraordinarily good taste, and could manage anything and pull strings together," said Eleanor Weller Reade, a friend and business partner, who continues in the business. "She had a perfect eye for antiques. She never did anything that was second-rate. She had a lot of imagination."

Mrs. Lucas set up a separate division of the firm, known as Charlotte's Web Antiques, on Falls Road near Lake Avenue. She withdrew from that business about 15 years ago.

"She had great managerial skills," said her daughter, Ellen T. White of New York City. "She was the kind of person who would get the job done."

In 1979, the Maryland Historical Society displayed her portrait, painted by artist Trafford Klots. Of the several thousand paintings the artist completed, his picture of Mrs. Lucas was one of 75 selected for the retrospective.

Her 22-year marriage to S. Bonsal White, an investment banker, ended in divorce. In 1977 she married Benjamin Lucas, who owned the Latrobe Building. He died in 1980.

A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 811 Cathedral St.

Survivors, in addition to her daughter, include her two sons, Stephen B. White of Norwalk, Conn., and Lawrence K. White of Baltimore; another daughter, Louise D. White Marburg of New York City; a half-brother, Dr. J. Edward Johnston of Baltimore; two stepsons, C. Shipley Lucas and Peter Lucas, both of Baltimore; and three grandchildren.

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