Kentlands is a village which was designed and built on the concept of 19th century towns. Archetypal towns and villages, of which Kentlands is the first, are actually designed by architects who develop communities and the towns in which they exist for a more pleasing life-style than in the developments that arose in the 1950’s.  These community designers eschew the "little boxes" types of houses that were built in single use communities during the second half of the twentieth century, and hearken to the classic hometowns that dotted the landscape from New England to the Pacific coast before 1950. These architects recreate Currier and Ives villages.

 

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Click here Kentlands History for a history of Kentlands and of the background for New-urbanist or Neo-traditional towns which have their roots in the communities of centuries past.

Building Kentlands


January 7, 1996, the worst snow storm in a hundred years hits Gaithersburg―and Kentlands

 
Snow storm photographs by Franklyn Perry

 

 

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     Kentlands was built on land once owned by Otis Beal Kent who had envisioned an ideal neighborhood such as now exists on the farm that he named Kentlands. Kent was a prosperous Washington lawyer who purchased the property in 1942. A fine musician in this own right, Kent updated the mansion and added a music room with a sky and puffy clouds painted on the ceiling. That room is now named The Helz Music Room honoring Dr. and Mrs. Armin Helz for their dedication to and contributions to the City of Gaithersburg.

     Ahead of his time, Kent was interested in wildlife and donated portions of the property he acquired to The National Geographic and stipulated that the undeveloped portions were to remain sanctuaries for wildlife. His forethought also included safety—he had a series of lakes dug on his farm for a water supply and kept his own private fire station which he volunteered to lend to the nearby municipalities in the event of need. He was also concerned about the safety of Washington D. C. since he lived during the time of the “cold war” and donated more land to be used as Nike bases to protect the Capitol.

     Kentlands today is a small community nestled in a very expansive urban area. The village itself, however, is a re-creation in spirit of the town that Gaithersburg was when Kent acquired his property. In the early 1940’s, Gaithersburg was a small farming village with a population of 530 people. There was a town center with a small Safeway, Diamond Drug Store, Wolfson’s Department Store, Blood’s Jewelry, a 5 and 10 Store, a Post Office, churches, a bank, a library, and a school which held grades kindergarten through twelve in one building—all within walking distance of the residents of the town.

     Gaithersburg is now a city of more than 50,000 people, the second largest [or third depending on fluctuations in Frederick’s population] city in Maryland whose mayor is the grandson of the original Wolfsons who established the town department store.

      The look and feel of Kentlands is reminiscent of the town that Gaithersburg was until the last thirty years of the 20th century—and that’s what it was designed to be with shops, restaurants, banks, and schools to which residents can walk.

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