Building Character Renovates Charming Carriage Shop in SoBo

| February 15, 2013 | 1 Comments

Brothers Mike and Matt Knoepfle of Building Character, LLC have been renovating Baltimore properties into luxury homes for more than 13 years. Now, they are putting the finishing touches on one of their biggest projects yet.  They had their eyes on a historic building at 37 Birkhead St. in South Baltimore that used to repair and build horse-drawn carriages for years and were finally able to purchase the property in 2012 thanks to the diligent work of their realtor, Jim Gunsiorowski.

Building Character is getting ready to reveal their stunning renovation which features more than 3,000 square feet of living space, 1,200 square feet of outdoor space, four bedroom suites, six bathrooms, two family rooms, a wet bar, private patio, two roof decks, a two-car garage and more.  The majority of South Baltimore homes are about 13 feet wide, but 37 Birkhead St. ranges from 30-50 feet in width with a depth of more than 50 feet.

On the outside of the property you’ll find an entrance to a two car garage, as well a large front door facing Marshall St. and a paint job featuring dark green and black accents.  As you enter the home, there is a large 30-foot-wide living space that leads into a gourmet kitchen.  The first floor also features a bedroom suite, three closets, a large dining room, a half bathroom and sliding doors that lead out to a large patio made of bricks from a home in Canton.  Throughout the house you’ll find high-end moldings, hardwood floors and high ceilings.

As you make your way to the second floor you can enter out to a roof deck or to the second family room.  From the second floor roof deck you can take stairs up to an enormous third-story roof deck that features 360-degree views of the Baltimore skyline, the stadiums and more.  The second floor family room features a fireplace, a large wet bar, a half bath and ample space for furniture and television viewing.  The family room is surrounded by three master suites that have their own full bathrooms with high-end finishes.

This is truly one of the most unique properties in South Baltimore.  Typically in the high-end market you will have to choose between the coziness and quirkiness of a historic property or the brand new construction in a townhome or condo.  This property combines both – the historic character and the spaciousness of a new build.

When Building Character purchased the carriage house it came equipped with three carriages – one for hauling furnaces, one for beer and soda, and one for milk – all of which were donated to a collector. Building Character also removed a hand crank elevator that went from the first to second floor of the property.

The Knoepfle brothers are no strangers to the Baltimore market as they have completed 82 renovations, mostly in Federal Hill, Locust Point, Canton and Fells Point over the last 13 years. They also currently have eight renovations under construction.  They are hoping to renovate and sell 20-25 homes each year and are always looking for properties in need of renovation.

When asked about how the current state of the market, Mike Knoepfle replied, “Great, probably the best we’ve seen.” Most of Building Character’s properties are sold before they hit the market thanks to low interest rates and tax breaks that come with historic renovations.  “There is a big allure with living in the city right now that isn’t as strong in the surrounding counties.  People like to live in a fun area where they can walk to stores and restaurants, ” said Mike Knoepfle.

Building Character’s renovations have ranged in price from $280,000 to upwards of $1,000,000 and their buyers have been anywhere from 25-70 years old.  “There is a buyer out there for every property.  Last year more than 30 properties sold in Baltimore City for more than $1,000,000,” said Matt Knoepfle.

When asked where they will turn their focus when few properties are left in need of renovation around the waterfront, Matt Knoepfle said,  “I’m sure one day soon our focus will be on expanding out from areas like Federal Hill, Canton, Locust Point and Fells Point into the next area.  I’m sure we’ll be doing homes in Pigtown and Highlandtown one day, but now we are focused on the neighborhoods around the waterfront.”

Keep an eye out for Building Character on an upcoming episode of a TLC reality show where they save the day on a Baltimore renovation.  And as far as 37 Birkhead St., it will hit the market next week and will be listed at $950,000 with Gunsiorowski.

 Update, 3/4:  After just six days on the market, this house is now under contract.

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.