The Pendray House will remain a focal point of the Pacific Landing development in Colwood. The Pendray family loved to travel and the tiles in their fireplace were fashion after their time abroad. (Katherine Engqvist/News Gazette staff)

#TBT: A look at the Pendray House in Colwood

Exploring its past while looking to its future

If you’re standing along Ocean Boulevard and the Esquimalt Lagoon in Colwood, your eyes tend to drift to Hatley Castle and Royal Roads. But if look closely, you’ll see the home of the Dunsmuir’s former neighbours nestled in a low lying area of the bird sanctuary.

The Pendray House sits on the old Havenwood property, which dates back to the 1800s. According to the Havenwood history series by Pacific Landing – the site owner – the property was Crown land for much of the 1800s and was purchased in 1872 by John Switzer, whom later saw the operation incorporated as the Belmont Tanning, Boot and Shoe Manufacture Co. That company owned and operated a sawmill and then a tannery from 1870 to 1920 along what is now call Colwood Creek in Hatley Park.

After that, the property changed hands several times until Herbert and Charlotte Pendray purchased the site in 1925 and began construction on the Mediterranean style villa that is now known as the Pendray House. It was completed in 1927.

Herbert and Charlotte loved to travel, according to the Havenwood history series, and spent much of their time abroad. Tiles in the large living room’s fireplace were handcrafted and fashioned after their travels.

Charlotte was also known to be an avid entertainer, hosting elaborate parties. Much like her neighbours the Dunsmuirs she loved her garden and had an impressive display including ponds and a sundial. She also had a love of birds, which would explain the large windows overlooking the lagoon.

“It’s kind of a little hidden gem but people are discovering it,” said Emily Royer, Pacific Landing director of sales, marketing and operations.

The entire site is nearly 12 acres, but as Royer explained, only seven of that can be developed. The rest is a migratory bird sanctuary, designated green space and the Pendray House.

While construction continues on the rest of the six phase development, the Pendray house is also slated for some upgrades to get it up to code.

“We’re pretty restricted in what we can do, basically we can only enhance it,” Royer explained. “So many people in the area have had so many interactions with this site and building.”

Pacific Landing bought the property and the Pendray House roughly 10 years ago but due to the market at that time, the development was put on hold. During that time frame it served as a home for the Coast Collective Art Centre for a number of years.

“You walk in and see how special it is,” Royer said. “It’s always been part of what we’ve been planning.”

While Pacific Landing intends to keep the Pendray House as a focal point of the development and a place for residents and the community to gather, what exactly it will be is still to be decided.

In the coming months Pacific Landing will be hosting an open house to get feedback from residents on what they would like to see it used for. As of now, Royer noted a lot of feedback they’ve received is that residents would like to see it as some sort of food and drink service, possibly a pub.

“People have gotten married here and we’d like to continue that,” Royer said, adding they’re open to all feedback.

While it may not look like it from the shores of the Esquimalt Lagoon, the Pendray House is 8,500 square feet. “There’s a ton of space, there’s a lot we can do with it,” Royer noted. “The whole vision of the project is creating community.”

The first phase of the Pacific Landing development was completed last fall with phase two underway and roughly 60 per cent sold. The development features two-bedroom, two-bathroom condos.

But there may be one resident who is a little out of the norm. “I’ve never seen evidence of it but apparently we have a ghost,” Royer said, adding that was discovered on a local ghost tour.

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The Pendray family loved to travel and the tiles in their fireplace were fashion after their travels abroad. (Katherine Engqvist/News Gazette staff)

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