In the News

Catonsville Times – 10/14/2005 – by Marcia Ames

This time last year, stay-at-home mother Marsha Wight Wise had never written a book. Now, she has one on the market, another in progress and a book-signing event scheduled for 2 p.m. Oct. 16, at the Catonsville library.

The secret of her success?

“You don’t sleep much,” said the 38-year-old Hunting Ridge resident whose children are 7, 5 and 2. “Mostly I worked weekends and evenings, after my husband came home.”

Opportunity played a role as well in the production of “Catonsville,” a 128-page paperback of black-and-white photographs and drawings recalling the town’s 195 years.

Early last November, Wise happened to read a publisher’s author-wanted note in the Catonsville Times for a book on Catonsville.

She responded the next week and, by Thanksgiving week, had signed a contract with the Arcadia Publishing Co. of Charleston, S.C.

The book is part of the company’s Images of America series on neighborhoods, town and cities across the country.

The Images of America books, including more than 60 titles related to Maryland, consist mainly of black-and-white photographs and images, which the authors must gather and describe. Each book runs 128 pages, is published in softcover and sells for about $20.

Wise’s second book, “Ellicott City,” is to be published next spring as another entry in the series.

She isn’t expecting to make a living from the books. The series’ authors receive only a small royalty for each copy sold through the publisher, although they have the option of buying books at a discount and reselling them themselves.

The Baltimore native relied on individuals, the Catonsville Room at the library and the city’s Enoch Pratt Free Library to borrow images and collect information.

Many of the buildings featured in her book, such as Castle Thunder, have long since passed into history, while others remain only as shadows of their former glory.

Wise, a graduate of the former Catonsville Community College who spent many hours house-sitting in the area while a student, said she loves old houses and enjoyed providing glimpses of the town as it once was.

Jean Walsh, a founding member of the Catonsville Historical Society who counseled Wise on the book’s preparation, said she enjoyed the final product and expects it to attract many readers.

“It will, if people are like I was, and always want to know what happened before such and such,” she said.

Maggie Schorr of the Friends of the Catonsville Library said she hoped the book would also attract attention to the Catonsville Room, which re-opened recently after more than a year of renovation.

“This is a small portion of what we have there,” she said, referring to the library’s contributions to the book.

The Catonsville Room at the library, 1100 Frederick Road, is open 2-5 p.m. Thursdays and 7:30-9 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month.

“Catonsville” is available at the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce at 822-B Frederick Road, the Catonsville Pharmacy at 6350 Frederick Road and Coffee Junction, 803 Frederick Road. To order online, go to or

Photos Sought for Catonsville Book

Catonsville Times – 01/26/2005

A Catonsville woman has received a contract to produce a pictorial history of Catonsville.

Marsha Wight Wise responded to an author search by Arcadia Publishing Co., a South Carolina firm that specializes in books about communities.

It’s the first experience of authorship for the wife and stay-at-home mother of three boys. She lives in the Hunting Ridge neighborhood.

A graduate of Catonsville Community College and the University of Baltimore, she has worked in the public relations and computer industries.

“I fell in love with Catonsville while attending the community college and have been fascinated with its history and architecture ever since,” she said.

Wight Wise’s major task is the accumulation of more than 200 vintage photos to be used in the book. She’s asking members of the community to share their photos and can be reached at 410-233-0693 or at

She said people with such photos need not worry about the photos leaving their possession. She’s willing to meet with the owners and electronically scan the photos on the premises.

“Have scanner, will travel,” she said.

Wight Wise has an April 5 deadline for delivering the book to the publisher. She said Arcadia plans to release the book in time for the annual Catonsville Arts and Crafts Festival in September.