Louis Fry Jr., 77; Architect for Black Colleges

By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Louis Edwin Fry Jr., 77, a Washington architect whose designs included buildings for Tuskegee University and other historically black campuses, died of complications from cancer March 7 at Washington Hospital Center.

Mr. Fry told The Washington Post in 1993 that his firm, Fry and Welch, was the oldest continuously operating African American architectural firm on the East Coast. Founded in 1954 by his father, Louis E. Fry Sr., the firm continues to design large commercial and institutional projects under the direction of Mr. Fry's son, Louis Fry III.

Mr. Fry's notable designs include Reed and Fort Lincoln elementary schools in the District and Baltimore's North Avenue subway station. In addition to a hotel and convention center at Tuskegee University, he designed buildings for Morgan State University, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Coppin State University. With his interest in black colleges and universities, he was following in the tradition of his father, who helped design Howard University's Founders Library and Douglas Hall and who was chairman of the architecture departments at Tuskegee and Lincoln University of Missouri.

According to his son, Mr. Fry's favorite project was the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station in Aberdeen, Md. "He took a run-down old station of historic significance and not only restored it, but restored the character and vitality to the area," Fry said. "The community responded."

Louis Fry Jr. was born in Prairie View, Tex., and grew up in the District. He attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City and received two undergraduate degrees, one from Howard in 1947 and the other from Harvard University in 1953. He also studied architecture in Delft, the Netherlands, on a Fulbright fellowship. In 1962, he received a master's of architecture degree in urban design at Harvard, where he studied under Walter Gropius, a famed German architect and architectural theorist. Mr. Fry also was a visiting professor at Harvard.

He served on architectural review panels for Washington and Baltimore and was a member of the Joint Committee on Landmarks of the National Capital.

In 1993, The Post reported on Mr. Fry's penchant for making changes to his own home, a glass-walled house on a tree-covered hill in upper Northwest Washington. His goal over the years was to open up the traditional two-story house to surrounding views, including Rock Creek Park and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus. He added windows to the dining room, living room, master bedroom and family room and built fish ponds, carved patios, paths and terraces into the steep embankment on which the house is perched. He also built a deck that cantilevers over the edge of the hill. He was still making changes at the time of his death, a daughter said.

Mr. Fry's wife, Genelle Wiley Fry, died in 1994.

In addition to his son, of the District, survivors include three daughters, JoNisa Fry Oliver of the District, Dr. Vicki-Lynn Wilson of Louisville and A'Lexa Genelle Hawkins of Hockessin, Del.; a sister, Dr. Gladys Marie Fry of College Park; seven grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company