2nd look at history to foster a renewal

Reissue of Filby book to help refurbish Carroll Baldwin Hall

January 26, 2000|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

Thirty-five years after the publication of her book on the history of Savage, Vera R. Filby is pleasantly surprised that people are still interested.

"When they asked me to reprint it, I thought, `Who would be interested in it?' " Filby said, smiling. "Then again, history is history, and it's still accurate up to 1965. After that, it's someone else's worry."

"They" is Carroll Baldwin Memorial Institute, a community group that works to preserve Carroll Baldwin Hall, a meeting place for Savage residents. The reissue of Filby's book, filled with facts about the town and Savage Mill, is being used as a fund-raiser to cover maintenance and improvement costs for the hall.

Filby is planning in the next few weeks to sign copies of her book -- titled "Savage, Maryland" -- and give a short lecture at Borders Books and Music, 6151 Columbia Crossing Circle. She said she is excited about her book reaching a new audience.

"There has been a lot of interest in the history from the younger people, and that's been great to see," said Filby, 78.

Corrinne Arnold, newly elected president of Baldwin Memorial Institute, said the book has been a mainstay in the community since its publication in 1965.

"When I was growing up, this was a book we had in our house," Arnold said. "It's just such a wonderful book, and Mrs. Filby is such a wonderful person."

A retired analyst with the National Security Agency, Filby said she and her husband, P. W. Filby, moved to Savage in 1958. She said the idea for the book began as a fund-raiser for the Savage Civic Association and turned into a two-year project of research and writing.

"I had quite a bit of fun doing it," Filby said. "We walked through the woods down the Savage tracks that connected to the B&O Railroad tracks, and we climbed through the mill and we could see through the cracks in the floor little pieces of the Christmas ornaments they made there."

Her love of the community and her husband's job at the time, as director of the Maryland Historical Society, helped her complete the book, Filby said.

"He had a lot of contacts, and I knew where to look for resources," Filby said. "To my surprise, it sold very well."

An Evening Sun article April 13, 1965, described the book as "a slim, readable monograph" and commented, "The writer's abiding interest in the town's history, so manifest in Savage today, peers through the text of every page."

Dennis Thornton, a member of the institute's board of directors, said he hoped sales of the book will help with such projects as making Carroll Baldwin Hall accessible to the disabled. The hall -- which, like the institute, was named for a former owner of the mill -- was built in 1922 and later given to the community. Thornton said it is a focal point for residents, who use it for everything from meetings to parties.

"If we didn't have the hall, people would have to pay for a place to meet," said Thornton. "Through donations and what little rent we get, we try to maintain the hall and do repairs."

Filby said she was happy to have 500 copies of her book reprinted to help her community. While changes have occurred over the years, including steady growth in the county and the mill's transformation into a center for arts and antiques, Savage is still a wonderful place to live, Filby said.

"It's an old-fashioned island in the middle of suburbia," she said.

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