Changes ahead for Penmarric House

Harcourts agent Peter Fox-Worthington outside Hamilton Road’s Penmarric House. The property is to be sold at auction on March 23.

Cambridge’s Penmarric House, an iconic home built in the early part of the last century, will go under the hammer at the end of March.

The 1883 m2 property in Hamilton Road will be auctioned on site at noon on Saturday March 23. The sale will usher in a new era for a building with strong links to the town’s history; over its life of almost a century it has been a nursing and maternity home, a restaurant and a Bed & Breakfast.

Harcourts agent Peter Fox-Worthington said the impending auction was generating a great deal of interest. Owners Robert and Marjolijn de Borst, who purchased the property in 1999 and have run it as a B & B, are moving on, he said.

“This is a magnificent home with a lot of local history behind it. Not only does the building reflect that history, but it could be developed in a number of different ways,” he said, outlining the flexibility of its eight bedrooms and four bathrooms.

“It is currently configured almost as two homes. There is a kitchen, dining and living area and four bedrooms both downstairs and upstairs, and there is an additional room that could become another bedroom. It could effectively house two families … or be adapted for letting or office space.  This is a very elegant home; it has matai and rimu polished wood floors, a rimu staircase and oak front and back doors.”

Historical records show that both the back and front doors came from the old National Bank building, and the house is said to have won the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce best building award in 1989 as a refurbished older building. Noted were its wide staircase, open fireplaces, leadlight windows and brass door knobs.

Peter said the property also included garaging for up to four vehicles, a double carport, a good-sized back garden and a pentaque court. “There are magnificent views from the north-facing rear deck, overlooking the rooftops of Cambridge and towards the mountains.”

Among ideas being mooted by interested parties was its development as an art gallery or a homestay for students, he added.

The original Penmarric was built around the early 1920s.  Cambridge Museum historical data says: “After a fire burnt Nurse Helen Russel’s Victoria Nursing Home in Hamilton Road in 1921, the first floor of ‘Whitiora’ was rebuilt by CW Cooper in 1926. In 1934 the second storey was added … and it became known as ‘Whitiora Nursing Home’ run by Sisters McConachie and Pettigrew”.

The information says when the new Cambridge Maternity Hospital was built in 1962 (at the now Cambridge Health and Community Centre), ‘Whitiora’ became a geriatric hospital, then a boarding house and flats.  In 1974 ‘Penmarric Restaurant’ was launched, growing in popularity from its early days of providing Devonshire teas then lunches, to becoming an established Waikato restaurant in the 1980s.

In more recent times, it has become a successful B & B, undergoing a thorough renovation in early 2014.

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