You’d be right to call Moira Horowitz eclectic. The 33-year-old grew up in the Philadelphia community of Villanova, and in the fall of 2003 she headed to Towson (where her mom grew up) to study art and photography at Goucher College.
She decided to settle in Baltimore, and in 2007 she followed her passion for antiques, history and “objects with stories” to a job with the now 41-year-old Kelmscott Bookshop on 25th Street just two weeks after getting her degree. Eleven years later, Horowitz, who is also a jewelry maker, actress, photographer, musician and singer/songwriter, still loves working with books, helping customers, researching, restoring and cataloging unusual finds, including one particular gem, a beautifully penned handwritten Civil War-era journal.
Horowitz lives in Winston-Govans in North Baltimore with her four cats — William Morris, Thomas Calvert, Gabby Giffords and Susan B. Anthony — while caring for another passel of outdoor felines she affectionately refers to as her “porch cats.”
What drew you to the bookshop?
I had always been really interested in antiques and history and old things and stories — objects with stories. When I graduated I was looking for jobs either at antique stores or furniture restoration places and I found the listing for the bookshop. They have sent me to classes and workshops in book restoration. My favorite part is the restoration and also getting to purchase books or research books.
Do you have a favorite “book story”?
We got somebody’s handwritten Civil War journal last year, and it was fascinating for me to just read through it and try to transcribe what he had written. He wrote about when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, and then about finding out it was John Wilkes Booth. It was just so interesting to see a person’s take on the Civil War as it was happening.
What’s your favorite book or type of book?
My favorite types of books to collect are ones that are windows into the world at the time that they were written. Like medical books or etiquette books or exercise books; any sort of housewife instructional manual. That kind of thing that really shows how much things have changed since the book was published. For reading, my favorite book is “Jitterbug Perfume.”
Have you always been into the arts?
Since I was a kid I always loved theater and singing and I was always in musicals and chorus and a cappella groups and plays. When I graduated from college, five friends decided they wanted to write a rock opera. And most of them had no theater experience at all. So I got involved, and they asked me to help write harmonies and edit and finish the script and that was the beginning of the Baltimore Rock Opera Society.
I make jewelry. I’ve been taking classes and making work at the Baltimore Jewelry Center for a number of years now.
I also play a little guitar and a little banjo, too, but mostly I sing. I’ve been making music with a friend of mine recently, but we haven’t established anything yet. And I’ve just gotten back to taking film photos and getting them developed. But I don’t have access to a darkroom anymore, which was one of my favorite parts of photography.
How does your Judaism intersect with your life?
My sense of humor and my culture is very much influenced by it. I’m not particularly religious, but recently a group of my friends who are Jews, or part Jews, started to get together and celebrate holidays. Which is good, because we all have different degrees of knowledge about Judaism. I know about the major holidays, but I don’t know very much about the smaller ones. It’s been really interesting to learn from my friends and hear about their memories of celebrating these holidays. We do Shabbat sometimes and I’m trying to start a Sunday brunch tradition as well.
How do you relax?
I love to watch movies on Netflix, or hang out with my cats. I like escapist films. I don’t necessarily want to see something that’s going to remind me of my own life. Science fiction and fantasy, superhero movies, action films. And, of course, I like the artsy stuff too. But my favorite movie is “Harold and Maude.” It’s been my favorite since I was in sixth grade.