After several months of review, site visits and discussion, the mayor and City Council voted on the majority of the Planning Department and Historical Commission’s recommendations for eight properties in Kentlands. The Mansion, Barn and Dog and Cat House — all publicly owned — were approved for the historic designation.
The Mansion had an overwhelming case for designation. It currently hosts 50 exhibits and met the requirements for seven criteria for historic designation. Some of the key elements for the designation are: association with a group or person who influenced society; exemplifies the cultural, economic, social, political or historic heritage of the city and its communities; embodies design, setting, materials, workmanship and ambience to the city’s sense of time, place and historic development.
The Barn met five of the criteria for designation with the leading one being the character and value as part of the development. It was also deemed the site of significant historic event and represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction.
Finally, the Dog and Cat House at 117 Kent Square Road met just three elements, but like the Barn and Mansion, was voted unanimously for designation. Along with character, another main attribute noted was it represented an established and familiar visual feature. The Dog and Cat House, also known as the Garden Shed and located next to the green space by the Arts Barn, was determined to have served as an important storage repository within the Kentlands Old Farm/Tschiffely-Kent Farm, according to city staff comments.
Final action on the Superintendent’s House, the Flour Mill and the Carriage House was deferred. The Flour Mill and Carriage House were both recommended for approval of historic status by the Planning Commission, while the Superintendent’s House was not. In a memo detailing its recommendations for approval or denial of each property, the Planning Commission stated the Superintendent’s House, a private residence located at 421 Kent Square Road and also referred to as the Caretaker’s House, is not visually connected to the historic core of the Tschiffely-Kent Farm. However, the city and property owner are reviewing options for this property.
The owners of the Flour Mill and Carriage House, both privately owned properties, did not respond to email, phone or mail inquiries by city planner Matthew T. Bowling. Since the paperwork is good for 90 days (until Jan. 7), Mayor Sidney Katz suggested they table voting on the properties until Bowling could reach out one more time. While Council member Cathy C. Drzyzgula voiced concerns over this since all recommended methods had been exhausted, the decision was made to provide more time in order to receive feedback on whether the owners care one way or another.
The Flour Mill, now the home of architects Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, at 320 Firehouse Lane was unanimously recommended for designation for its character and is regarded as a significant and distinguishable entity. The Carriage House at 321 Kent Square Road met just one of the criteria but was unanimously approved. The Planning Commission felt it had character and was of interest or value as part of the development of the community.
The Planning Commission recommended historical designation be denied for the Springhouse Ruins (at Inspiration Lane/Inspiration Lake and Pheasant House and Grotto/Crypt (a private residence at 801 Inspiration Lane), stating the applications for these sites were not consistent with the land use element of the City of Gaithersburg Master Plan. The Mayor and City Council voted to uphold that recommendation and deny the historical designations.
The process of considering these properties for historic designation began on July 5 when the Historic District Commission made individual recommendations that the Mansion, Barn, Carriage House, Flour Mill, Dog and Cat House, Superintendent’s House and Springhouse receive historic designation.
On Aug. 2, the Historic District Commission added the Pheasant House and Grotto/Crypt to the mix. City representatives and officials conducted a site visit several weeks later, and a joint public hearing on the historic designation applications was held on Sept. 4.
Recommendations by the Planning Department were issued Oct. 12, and the record was held open until Oct. 18. Policy discussion was held at the Nov. 5 mayor and City Council meeting, and final resolution will be Jan. 7 when they will vote on the delayed properties.
For background information and photographs of the Kentlands buildings and sites considered for historic designation, visit http://www.gaithersburgmd.gov/Documents/mc_bkd_12/110512/Tschiffely_Kent_Farm.pdf.