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.
1996, the worst snow storm in a
hundred years hits Gaithersburg―and
storm photographs by Franklyn Perry
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
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
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
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.
is a registered mark of the Kentlands Citizens Assembly.