Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Dorothy Byron Lane (1896-1993)
MSA SC 3520-2290
First Lady of Maryland, 1947-1951

Dorothy Byron, daughter of Lewis T. and Virginia Brewer Byron, was born in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania in 1896.1  When she was two years old, the family moved to Hagerstown, Maryland where they lived across the street from the Lane family.2  William Preston ("Pres") Lane, Jr. was four years her senior, and the two married on January 17, 1922.  The house they purchased in 1925 in Hagerstown served as their permanent residence for all but their four years in Annapolis.  The couple had two daughters, Dorothy and Jean.

As First Lady of Maryland, Mrs. Lane made few changes to Government House.  She was an avid gardener and her daily routine included placing fresh flowers in the various rooms in order to add her own personal touch to the house.  Her other interests included playing golf as well as attending operas and symphonies.She was a member of the Hagerstown Garden Club, Arts and Letters Club, and Women's Club.4

Known as "shy" and "self-effacing," and described as "uncomfortable in public," Mrs. Lane nevertheless campaigned with her husband and invited visitors to Government House during her tenure as First Lady.  "I really love to receive groups here, particularly groups of children," reported Mrs. Lane.  "It's an impressive and historic house, and I think it makes an impression on children."5

In 1947 a controversy arose around Mrs. Lane when rumors began circulating that she was personally benefiting from the state sales tax that her husband had supported and had pushed through the legislature.  "It's very disheartening when you are so careful with expenditures to hear the rumor that the sales tax paid for your daughter's wedding," she said.  Her older daughter Dorothy reported that, "Mother is a worrier and terribly conscientious.  She really takes her job seriously, and I know she's often hurt by the rough and tumble of politics."6  Mrs. Lane proved to be fiscally conservative, however, and reported at the end of her tenure as First Lady that she had saved enough money from the housekeeping allowance to buy an eighteenth-century portrait of  Horatio Sharpe (Governor of Maryland from 1753 to 1769) and his family from the Vose Galleries in Boston.  The portrait was presented to the state in 1951 and now hangs in the Government House dining room.7

In 1973 Mrs. Lane cut the ribbon opening the second span of the William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial Bridge across the Chesapeake Bay, named after her husband following his death in 1967.  Her later years were spent quietly in her Hagerstown home that she had once shared with her husband.  It was there that she died in 1993 at the age of ninety-six.8

Notes on sources

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