Staff -- Interior Design, 5/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
Sarah Tomerlin Lee, whose 65-year career in fashion, advertising, and interior design was inspired by a unique sense of history and romanticism, died at age 90 on April 15th. Born in Union, Tennessee, Lee graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Randolph Macon Women's College, where she served as class president and later as a trustee for 17 years. A stylish and charming southerner, Lee came to New York in 1936, and began her career at Bonwit Teller, where she met her husband, designer Tom Lee. Subsequently, she served as beauty editor of Harper's Bazaar, vice-president of advertising, display, and promotion at Lord & Taylor, and editor-in-chief of House Beautiful.
Upon her husband's untimely death in 1971, Lee stepped in to run his interior design firm, Tom Lee Ltd., and to oversee the completion of several major hotel projects, including the Four Seasons in Toronto and the Rye Town Hilton. Over the next three decades, Lee would design more than 40 hotels, 19 of them in New York. She came to specialize in the restoration of signature properties, and took great joy in projects such as the Plaza Hotel and the Helmsley Palace. Other notable work included the rehabilitation of the historic Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia's Bellevue Hotel.
Inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame in 1986, Lee received numerous awards and honorary degrees during her career. In 1993, Lee merged her practice with the architecture firm Beyer, Blinder, Belle. She was a co-founder of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, and served as president of the Decorator's Club and a trustee of the New York School of Interior Design.
Donations in Sarah Tomerlin Lee's memory may be made to the New York School of Interior Design.
ERICKA HULLE - 2009-12-05 10:09:00 EST
I have a large water-colour purchased at auction, signed by Tom Lee, which I think may be of Marta E Raymond. It is entitled 'Home'. Could you confirm that this is a possibility, or indicate how I could find out more.
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