Church has an af­ter­life

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - HOME - Jes­sica Howard Email howardjr@the­mer­

COULD this be Ho­bart’s most fas­ci­nat­ing ren­tal prop­erty? Many will recog­nise the sand­stone fa­cade of this West Ho­bart prop­erty, which dom­i­nates the cor­ner of Goul­burn St and For­est Rd, but few have had the priv­i­lege of tak­ing a glimpse in­side.

Pre­vi­ously a church for 146 years, the res­i­dence, now known as Pen­dragon Hall, has served many pur­poses since be­ing de­con­se­crated in 1998.

Built in 1852, it was known as St John the Bap­tist Church be­fore be­ing re­named Pen­dragon Hall by pre­vi­ous own­ers Richard Dya­son and Au­drone Berzan­skas, who were Celtic his­tory buffs.

Used as a bed- and- break­fast for many years, the hall has also hosted con­certs and art ex­hi­bi­tions in re­cent years.

Two years ago Juliet Tabain, now of Perth, bought the build­ing for her daugh­ter Monika Tabain- Hoogland.

Charmed by its char­ac­ter, his­tory, high arches and stun­ning stained glass win­dows, Monika fell in love with the build­ing while liv­ing in Dodges Ferry.

‘‘ I was road trip­ping around Aus­tralia with my boyfriend when I got to Tas­ma­nia,’’ she said.

‘‘ I fell in love with the wilder­ness and amaz­ing scenery. I love the coast­line, rain­forests and alpine re­gions.’’

Since pur­chas­ing the prop­erty, the only nec­es­sary changes have been to re­place the gut­ter­ing and paint­ing the in­te­rior white – mak­ing quite a dif­fer­ence from the former gloomy pur­ple colour.

The vivid colour and the way light catches in the stained glass win­dows make this Monika’s favourite as­pect of the home.

‘‘ The artist who de­signed them re­mains a mys­tery, although

some sus­pect it may have been a French artist,’’ she said.

‘‘ The bell tower I also love be­cause it’s a unique lit­tle fea­ture and the per­fect place to lock some­one in if they mis­be­have.’’

Hav­ing a back­ground in the arts is some­thing ten­ant Court­ney Simp­son, who moved in just a few weeks ago with her daugh­ter Edie, has in com­mon with her new land­lord.

‘‘ I was liv­ing in Mel­bourne when I found this on­line and it was the same as I was paying for a shoe­box one- bed­room apart­ment over there,’’ she said.

‘‘ A month later I came back here and it was still avail­able. When the price went down I had to have it.

‘‘ Be­fore I moved in I was wor­ried that I might wake up in the mid­dle of the night and feel over­whelmed, but it’s really peace­ful in here. You do think twice about swear­ing though.’’

Ef­fec­tively one large open- plan room with sep­a­rate kitchen and bath­room, the in­te­rior is di­vided into liv­ing, din­ing and sleep­ing ar­eas, with var­i­ous art­works by Court­ney adorn­ing the white walls.

Orig­i­nal church pews were in­cluded in the ten­ancy and can be found in the for­mal din­ing area in the cen­tre of the home.

Court­ney’s bed is lo­cated at the front end of the church be­neath a re­lief of The Last Sup­per.

The seem­ingly end­less high ceil­ings cre­ate a sense of space with­out com­pro­mis­ing the homely feel­ing.

Moder­nity has made a sub­tle mark, with so­lar pan­els on the roof and smoke alarms on the ex­posed tim­ber ceil­ing beams at­tached to fish­ing wire to make them ac­ces­si­ble to change the bat­ter­ies.

The old bap­tismal font now houses a pot plant and the orig­i­nal wooden doors open out on to what is now used as a bar­be­cue area.

Monika hopes to even­tu­ally re­turn to Ho­bart and make some­thing of Pen­dragon Hall so it can be vis­ited by the pub­lic.

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