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Charlestown joins Catonsville in celebrating 200 years

Created date

May 25th, 2010

Growing up in west Baltimore, Mary Leech always felt a connection to Catonsville. We lived about three or four miles away, but I was very familiar with the area because I had friends that lived in Catonsville, says Leech. Every year, I would go to their house for the Fourth of July celebration. In 1951, Leech and her late husband bought a house on Newburg Avenue, in the center of downtown Catonsville, where she spent the next 37 years. I ve always loved this area, say Leech, who now resides at Charlestown on Maiden Choice Lane, just three miles from her Newburg house. It was a wonderful place to raise a family quiet, safe, and friendly. My kids went to St. Mark School and Church, and everybody always knew everybody. It s that small-town appeal that ranked Catonsville among Money magazine s top 100 best places to live in 2007. This year, as Catonsville celebrates its 200th anniversary, newcomers and natives alike continue to flock to the area. And in honor of the anniversary, the Catonsville Historical Society has planned events throughout the year. The goal is to educate Catonsvillians, the general public, and whomever that we are a lot older than most of them think we are, said Joan Bender, president of the historical society, in a Catonsville Times article. We go back, probably, to the early 1700s.

No place like home

Once known as a quiet bedroom community, Catonsville has evolved into a destination in itself with dozens of shops, restaurants, parks, and other outdoor attractions. Cecilia Murphy moved to Catonsville from southwest Baltimore as a child in 1948. As an adult, Murphy and her husband, Louis, moved around a bit but always ended up back where they started. After Louis got out of the service, we bought our first house right down the street on Garden Ridge Road, says Mrs. Murphy. We left Catonsville a few times throughout his career, but nowhere else felt like home. Catonsville is where we feel comfortable. It is a beautiful place to live. It s no surprise that when the Murphys decided to trade in their house for a worry-free lifestyle, their search started and ended right in their own backyard. We always knew about Charlestown, says Mrs. Murphy. So when we started looking for a place where we could relax and not have all the worries of homeownership, Charlestown was at the top of our list. Charlestown s 110-acre campus, formerly the St. Charles College and Seminary, has been a part of Catonsville s landscape for the last 26 years. The community best known for its maintenance-free apartment homes and amenity-rich lifestyle recently hosted the Catonsville Historical Society s Bicentennial Gala.The Murphys, members of the Catonsville Historical Society, attended the event. We had a great time, says Mrs. Murphy. The food was fantastic! And we really enjoyed the slide and video presentation they did of Catonsville s history.

Small town charm

Edward Orser, a professor of American studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, was the keynote speaker at the event. Orser has spent his life studying the history of Catonsville and is the coauthor of Catonsville, 1880 1940: From Village to Suburb. Despite its suburban status, Catonsville has managed to retain its small-town charm, said Orser in a recent interview with the Catonsville Times. Contributing to that feel is the fact that Catonsville has a vibrant downtown with small businesses that serve specialized clients. There are sort of niche businesses that serve a special clientele. [For example,] there are people who come from all over the area to go toBill s Music Housein Catonsville. Orser also said that Catonsville s rich history makes it a place that you can always learn new things about, no matter how long you have lived there. I ve been here 41 years and I consider myself a newcomer, he said. As for the Murphys, they re celebrating their fifth year at Charlestown and say they hope to attend more of the upcoming events that celebrate Catonsville. We feel fortunate to live in such a beautiful community that s so rich in history, says Mrs. Murphy. We also love Charlestown it just doesn t get any better than this. More information. Charlestown history Catonsville Historical Society Catonsville Chamber of Commerce