Category: Centennial Homes

101 Years at 3704 Greenmount Avenue: The Wernig/Kohlhepp Family in Guilford

The Baltimore Centennial Homes project, developed in collaboration between Baltimore Heritage and City Councilman James Kraft, recognizes families that have been in the same house for 100 years or more. Their stories show the changes that our communities and our city have experienced as well as the critical roles that neighborhoods and their families have played in keeping historic neighborhoods thriving.

Over 100 years ago, on October 22, 1918, two Baltimore natives of German ancestry purchased a house with ground rents at 3704 Greenmount Avenue on the eastern border of Baltimore’s Guilford neighborhood. The couple, Joseph Simon Wernig, Sr. and Caroline C. Hauhn Wernig, were the maternal great-grandparents of Edmond Francis Kohlhepp who presently lives in the same house. The Wernigs of 1918 had three children Mary Evelyn (Edmond’s grandmother), Harry Bernard and Joseph Simon, Jr. The property has remained occupied and in continuous ownership by a family member for 101 years.

1897, Wedding day photo of Joseph S. Wernig and Caroline C. Hauhn, the 1918 owners of the 3704 Greenmount Avenue house

The family patriarch, Joseph S. Wernig, Sr., owned the Joseph S. Wernig Transfer Company, one of the largest transfer companies in Baltimore City in the early part of the twentieth century. He had 172 horse-drawn wagons that rolled over the cobblestone streets of Baltimore.  They transferred products such as paper goods, merchandise and furnishings from the train station to local businesses. The company also moved entire businesses such as McCormick Company, Inc. and Maryland Casualty Insurance Company to other locations in Maryland.

Upon his death in 1944, Wernig, Sr. conveyed the property at 3704 Greenmount Avenue to his wife, Caroline C. Wernig, and to his heirs thereafter in fee simple ownership. Unfortunately, Caroline died five years later in 1949. Prior to her death she decided that the house would be left to her daughter, Mary Evelyn, because her only living son, Joseph S., Jr., had inherited the family business.

Edmond’s grandmother, M. Evelyn Wernig, with Edmond’s mother, Mary E., as an infant in 1923

In the early 1940’s when Mary E. was in her late teens, she met Edmond James Kohlhepp. Edmond was working behind the counter at the drug store located at the corner of Chestnut Hill Avenue and Greenmount Avenue. When Mary E. would cross the street and order ice cream, Edmond would always give her an extra dip, indicating even then, that he had a crush on her.

During World War II, Edmond J. Kohlhepp served in the Navy as a gunner on the Destroyer Escort, the USS Hissem. Years later his name was inscribed on the Destroyer Escort Memorial Plaque located in the main hall of the War Memorial Building in downtown Baltimore City.

Edmond J. and Mary E. began dating in December 1946. Two years later they married at the Blessed Sacrament Church (4200 block of Old York Road). The couple separated in 1962, and Mary E. moved into the Wernig house at 3704 Greenmount Avenue with her four children to live with her mother. By 1965 the couple divorced. 3704 Greenmount Avenue became the permanent residence of Mary E. and her children. In 1970, Edmond F.’s grandmother, M. Evelyn Wernig, died suddenly and left the house to her daughter Mary E. and her heirs, the four children–Edmond, Michael, Mary Ann, and Harry.

Edmond Kohlhepp, 1 years old, with his mother, Mary E. Kohlhepp

Edmond Francis, born in 1949, and his mother had many fond memories of the house and the neighborhood. He recalled the time she took the streetcar to La Paix Lane in the Towson area to visit her great uncle and aunt. From her relative’s house, Mary E. could look over to the Turnbull Estate and see the famous writer and novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald walking around in the backyard or swimming in the pool. Edmond F. also remembers his visits to Sherwood Gardens. One time, he even met Mr. Sherwood.

Some of Edmond F.’s fondest memories are of visiting the famous sculptor, Grace Hill Turnbull, twice a year for seven years from 1965-72. She lived in his neighborhood on Chancery Road, a few blocks northwest of their house. Although in her eighties, she was sharp as a tack and very knowledgeable about many topics. She always insisted that Edmond play her one of his recent musical compositions on her grand piano.

Mary E. Kohlhepp passed away in 2005 and the grand old house became the possession of the next generation. Upon the decision of the children of Mary E. Kohlhepp, the eldest son, Edmond F. Kohlhepp would occupy the house. On November 11, 2019, Baltimore Heritage was pleased to mount a Centennial Homes plaque on the Wernig/Kohlhepp house.

On November 11, 2019, Baltimore Heritage mounted a Centennial Homes plaque on the Wernig/Kohlhepp house. From right to left, siblings Ed Kohlhepp, Mary Ann Kohlhepp Bacon and Harry Kohlhepp


Summary of material compiled by Lisa Doyle. For the full house and family history, please see Lisa Doyle’s The Wernig and Kohlhepp Family

Welcoming a Canton neighbor into the Centennial Homes program on March 25

Moskal house 2-8-13We’re excited to welcome our latest home-owner into the Baltimore Heritage Centennial Homes program with a plaque presentation for Mr. Roland Moskal on Fait Avenue at the monthly Canton Neighborhood Association meeting on March 25.

Moskal Centennial Home Plaque Presentation at the Canton Neighborhood Association Meeting

Monday, March 25, 2013, 7:00pm
United Evangelical Church, 3200 Dillon Street, Baltimore, MD 21224
Social gathering starts at 6:30pm and the presentation starts at 7:00pm with brief remarks from the Canton Neighborhood Association President, Daryll Jurkiewicz.

In 1904, Roland Moskal’s maternal grandmother, Maggie Williams, a widow, purchased a newly constructed rowhouse at 3408 Fait Ave. in the neighborhood of Canton in Baltimore City. She paid off her mortgage 17 months later in 1905. Over the last 108 years, Maggie Williams was followed by three generations of her family who have owned and occupied the property including her grandson Robert Moskal. Read on for the extensive profile of the history of this long-time Canton family and their home. Special thanks to our hard-working volunteer Lisa Doyle for her continuing work on the Centennial Homes program.  If you have information on a Centennial Homeowner in your neighborhood, please contact Lisa Doyle at 410-484-7878 or

Pente Family: 100 Years in Little Italy

John Pente with daughter Margaret Schwartz and son-in-law Al Schwartz celebrate over 100 years in Little Italy. Photo by Lisa Doyle.

Sadly, Little Italy’s John Pente passed away earlier this week at age 100. Mr. Pente was a lifelong resident of Little Italy and Baltimore Heritage’s first honoree in the Centennial Homes program. Mr. Pente’s family moved into the house on High Street in 1904, and Mr. Pente lived there almost his entire life. His grandfather settled along President Street in Baltimore as an immigrant from Abruzzi, Italy in the 1890s when “Little Italy” was more German and English than Italian.  The area became known as “Little Italy” in the 1920s after the first Italian restaurant opened then. As part of Baltimore’s growing Italian community in the area, the Pente family found work where they could and carried on a family tradition as musicians in various local Italian bands. As a volunteer with St. Leo’s Church, the Sons of Italy, and the ambassador for the Little Italy Film Festival (which projected from a window on his second floor), John Pente was an active participant for decades in helping neighborhood grow and prosper. Part of this remarkable man’s legacy is certainly the Little Italy neighborhood that he took such good care of.

Click here to download a brief profile of the Pente Family by Cristina Ambroselli for our Centennial Homes program.

The Baltimore Sun ran a nice article on Mr. Pente in today’s paper.  Also, WYPR will re-broadcast an interview with Mr. Pente from 2009 when he helped launch the Centennial Homes program.  The interview will air on Friday, July 30, between 9:15 and 9:30 a.m. A viewing will be held at Zanino’s Funeral Home in Highlandtown on Friday between 2:00 and 9:00 p.m. and a funeral mass will be held at St. Leo’s Church in Little Italy on Sunday at 10:00 a.m.

Baltimore’s Centennial Homes: Honoring Neighborhood Stewardship of “Unsung Heroes”

Our volunteer program manager Lisa Doyle wrote this article for the January 2010 issue of Forum News on the development of our Centennial Homes program and the story of John Pente and the Little Italy rowhouse the Pente has owned for over 100 years. Thanks to Lisa for sharing this great story!

Historic preservation is all about places: buildings, sites, communities, even entire towns and cities. As preservationists, we uncover forgotten or neglected details about these treasures, restore them, and find ways to preserve and share their relevance for future generations. Yet some of the greatest preservationists in our own neighborhoods receive scant recognition: the people and families that have been living in the same home on the same block in the same neighborhood for a long time. Baltimore’s Centennial Homes Program seeks to thank these cornerstones of communities by honoring families that have lived in the same house for 100 years or more.

Centennial Homes families are the “unsung heroes” that have played a significant role in preserving the history of Baltimore’s neighborhoods. They have unique voices and perspectives that recount how their neighborhoods have evolved through times of war, immigration, social and economic changes. Heartfelt decisions from generation to generation to remain not only in the same neighborhood but in the same home reflect a true commitment and stewardship for their neighborhoods.

Baltimore’s Centennial Homes Program was born five years ago when a local city councilman was knocking on doors trying to get elected. He came across a number of “little old ladies” who answered their doors and mentioned that they had been born in their houses as had their parents. James Kraft, now a councilman for a district near Baltimore Harbor, felt that there should be some way to thank these families that have long been a part of Baltimore’s historic neighborhoods. He initiated a partnership between the City of Baltimore and Baltimore Heritage, and the Centennial Homes Program began.

The program is modeled after the numerous state programs that honor agricultural properties that have been continuously owned and maintained in agricultural use by the same family for a century or more, such as those of Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Wyoming. Families may be recognized in ceremonies at the state fair, as well as with certificates or plaques and other publicity. Colorado’s Centennial Farm Program and Oklahoma’s Centennial Farm & Ranch Program both present an additional Historic Structures Award to farm and ranch families that have preserved four or more historic buildings (at least 50 years old) in conjunction with the land. The Georgia Centennial Farm Program gives special recognition to properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Baltimore’s Centennial Homes Program gives this idea an urban twist. The focus of the program is on families and how they have contributed to their communities. The Centennial Homes houses are not grand or historically important, other than as part of the fabric of their historic neighborhoods. And Baltimore Heritage has emphasized the link between the family and neighborhood, regardless of the condition of the house.

From its beginning, the Centennial Homes Program has relied on partnerships with local universities. As a semester project, a Goucher College historic preservation program undergrad created the nuts and bolts of how the program works. Undergraduates from Loyola University and the University of Baltimore history programs interview the homeowners, create a family profile, and document neighborhood history of the last 100 years. Baltimore Heritage features each family and the family’s neighborhood on its website, providing inspiration to other neighborhood residents about their own past and future community involvement. Along with these profiles, each Centennial Home receives a bronze plaque to identify the house and its occupants as long-term stewards.

At the real heart of the program are the people and their neighborhood stories. The story of the first Centennial Homes family tells a lot about the program itself and what it can accomplish. John Pente, the 99-year-old patriarch of the Pente family in Baltimore’s Little Italy neighborhood, lives by himself in a quintessential Baltimore rowhouse. John’s father purchased the house in 1904 and John has lived in it since his birth in 1910. From this house, he wooed his future wife, raised his family, found work during the Great Depression, cheered for returning troops from both World Wars, saw new families join the neighborhood in different waves of immigration and others leave for homes in the suburbs, and experienced booms and busts of economic fortunes. Throughout all this, the family has stayed active in the neighborhood, from volunteering at church dinners to advocating sidewalk repairs. The Pente family has been part of the backbone that makes Little Italy a unique and thriving neighborhood.

For the past 11 years, John has allowed the Little Italy Film Festival, held outdoors on Friday nights in the summer, to project movies from a bedroom window of his home. It was only fitting that the official launch of the Centennial Homes Program honor the Pente family at one such Friday film night. Neighbors new and old came out to honor and thank the Pentes for their stewardship. Most viewers would not identify themselves as “historic preservationists,” but their support for the neighborhood and the Pente family proves otherwise.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was learning that John’s great-niece recently purchased the house next door from her grandmother, John Pente’s sister. With a fifth generation of Pentes due to arrive soon, it appears this family’s commitment to the neighborhood will not fade any time soon. As Meredith Nagle, John’s great-niece, said: “I just couldn’t let someone other than family buy the house that feels like a second home to me.”

There are now nearly a dozen Centennial Homes families identified in ten different neighborhoods across Baltimore, with new leads on possible 100-year owners coming in regularly. As we work to preserve our buildings and neighborhoods in Baltimore, the Centennial Homes Program helps us focus on an essential component: these unsung people and families, whose voices and daily efforts to care for historic communities cannot be forgotten.