Ben Schweitzer

Ben Schweitzer

Lecture explores Jewellery for Old Houses

Expert reviews original hardware options for home restorations

If you’re considering purchasing one of Oak Bay’s older homes, it is possible to maintain or rediscover its characterwhile updating “the bones” to today’s standards.

From doorknobs to cabinet hardware, the details can make the difference and a talk this weekend at Wentworth Villaexplores some of the opportunities and resources, says Ben Schweitzer, the villa’s managing director.

Antique Builders Hardware Jewellery for Old Houses begins at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 19, with Mark Aitken exploring theevolution in engineering, function and design of builders’ hardware before, during and after the villa’s construction at 1156Fort St., near Craigdarroch Castle.

During the villa’s major restoration, Aitken and other experts were brought in to help identify original elements. A lot waslearned during that process that they wanted to share, Schweitzer says.

“Mark’s the guy for people to ask,” he says, noting Aitken restored his own Vic West home and was instrumental inrestoration work at Ross Bay Villa. He’s also well-connected in the industry for those looking for the right hardware for theirhome.

“If you’re into the heritage of the home and you’d like to give it the (heritage feel), you need to be consistent,” Schweitzersays. “There’s lots of resources if you know what you’re looking for.”

In addition to viewing Wentworth’s original hardware still in operation after 150 years, participants can explore the varietyof styles and finishes available to local homebuilders and their clients through a private collection of hardware and periodcatalogues.

The talk is one of the a series continuing through June. Also coming up in the lecture series is The Historic Wallpapers ofWentworth Villa, a richly illustrated April 30 lecture with Oak Bay’s Simone Vogel-Horridge, who will explore some of themore than 100 wallpapers found in Wentworth Villa as well as how styles and use of wallpapers changed between the 1860sto the 1960s. Vogel-Horridge will conduct a live wallpaper investigation and peel back the layers on wallpapers that havenot been seen for well over 100 years.

On March 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., small guided tours of Wentworth Villa focus on restoration of heritage homes,exploring the process and procedures the villa followed during restoration as well as experts and resources available locallyto help properly restore a home.

Operated by the Oak Bay-founded Pacific North-West Heritage Homes Foundation, Wentworth Villa is designed as anarchitectural heritage museum, with the restored building dedicated to presenting, preserving and popularizing the region’srich architectural heritage. The focus is residential architecture, rather than official and public architecture.

Covering the 19th century through the interwar years, the villa hosts both permanent and temporary exhibits about localhistory as seen through the evolution of building styles, standards, techniques and through the changing lives of occupantsof these houses.

One of the area’s oldest residential houses, the 1863-built Wenthworth Villa is designed in Gothic Revival style, it’s believedby Wright and Sanders, Victoria’s first architectural firm. It’s a designated Victoria heritage building and listed in the registerof Canadian Historic Places. Its restoration recevied the 2016 Outstanding Achievement Award for Heritage Conservationfrom Heritage BC.

The lectures draw a variety of people, from those “curious about what went on in the villa so they get a deeper appreciationof the work that went into restoring (it),” to contractors and homeowners eager to learn more about their own projects,Schweitzer says.

Lectures are $15. Register in advance at or pay at the door. For more information, call 250-598-0760.