Home Artifacts Pendennis Building: treasure trove of Edmonton artifacts found during restoration

Pendennis Building: treasure trove of Edmonton artifacts found during restoration

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An Edmonton architect is working to preserve hundreds of everyday artifacts discovered inside an iconic downtown building, some of which date back to the 1890s.

The discoveries occurred while the historic Pendennis Building on Jasper Avenue has been undergoing renovations for the past 17 years.

The objects shed light on what life was like in Edmonton at the turn of the 20th century.

“This is dated 1903, so it’s before Alberta became a province,” architect David Murray said while holding up a booklet titled: Where, How and All About It.

Murray is used to finding unique odds and ends in the historic buildings he helps renovate, but what he found in the Pendennis building, he thinks, is truly remarkable.

Edmonton architect David Murray shows off an artifact found in the Pendennis Building. (Jeremy Thompson/CTV News Edmonton)

“More artifacts than I have ever found in any building I have worked on,” he said.

A member of the team that began renovating the old hotel in 2005, Murray abandoned the project for a while. But when he joined in 2019, he began cataloging what workers found during demolition.

“You learn so much about the role of the hotel, about the development of the city and about the people who came here,” he said.

Built in the 1890s, the Pendennis building housed the Lodge Hotel for decades. It grew around 1911 to absorb a neighboring pharmacy.

“They just put a brick facade in front of the old building,” Murray explained.

The Pendennis Building in Edmonton. (Jeremy Thompson/CTV News Edmonton)

Now that the renovation into a modern office space is complete, Murray is digging into the stories behind the salvaged items.

One of the items is a contract for a turn-of-the-century matchmaking service for settlers. There is also an advertisement for a hypnotist who claims to have psychic powers.

“You can send it to him with a lock of hair, and they’ll make a medium for you, it costs a dollar,” Murray said.

There are also maps, a spooky cherry pitter, railroad playing cards, and lots of California items.

Artifacts found in the Pendennis building. (Jeremy Thompson/CTV News Edmonton)

We think there’s a good chance it had to do with the gold rush,” Murray said.

Local museums are interested in parts of the collection.

But rather than split the story, the owners of Pendennis plan to put the items on public display when the building opens later this year.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson