Dianne Wiebe Book Signing September 4 in Hagerstown

Hagerstown, MD – Author Dianne Wiebe will be signing her book George Alfred Townsend & Gathland—A Journalist and His Western Maryland Estate on Thursday, September 4, 2014 from 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Downtown Visitor Welcome Center, which is located at 6 N. Potomac Street.

Wiebe has enjoyed a varied career that includes directing non-profits, architectural preservation and main street revitalization efforts, journalism and publishing. She was captivated by the story of Civil War era journalist George Alfred Townsend when she began working at the Townsend museum in Gathland State Park in Western Maryland, on the site of his former estate and the monumental War Correspondents Memorial Arch.

Usually writing under the pen name GATH, Townsend was a prolific writer who Wiebe describes as, “a man of many talents who was ambitious, charismatic, larger-than-life, classically educated, and immensely energetic.” He had a reputation for flamboyance and ostentation, and managed to create a lasting legacy important to journalists everywhere. He built Gapland originally to be a quiet summer retreat. It grew to a large estate consisting of several large and elaborate homes, outbuildings and gardens, and the Arch, besides being dedicated to the memory of Civil War correspondents, artists and photographers, was a symbol of his wealth and fame, and a testament to his creative artistry.

“I had the advantage of being able to bring him into the twenty-first century and help restore the prominence and recognition he feared would be lost. Documenting the hundred years since his death allowed me to showcase his place in the continuum and the way in which people, places and events find their place in it,” said Wiebe of her journey writing the book.

CVB director of operations Jolene Thomas points to the book as a wonderful summer read for those interested in local and Civil War history and learning more about one of the nineteenth century’s leading journalists. “To have a copy autographed by the author is a special bonus,” she adds.

Gathland State Park is located in Crampton’s Gap, where a portion of the Battle of South Mountain, the first major battle of the Civil War fought in Maryland, took place. Two buildings from Townsend’s estate survive, and now serve as Gathland State Park’s museum. The museum features many artifacts from Townsend’s life, career and estate, as well as artifacts from the Battle of South Mountain. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail traverses the park and passes the monument base. The museum is open on weekends in April and October, and seven days a week from May through September. It is closed during the winter.

The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau is a 501(c)6 nonprofit organization whose mission is to help attract visitors to Hagerstown and Washington County. The CVB helps to create vibrant growth for the local economy by promoting, developing and expanding the local visitor industry. For more information about Hagerstown-Washington County see: http://www.marylandmemories.com.