In his memoirs Ellis Ladner, Thomas and Edna Ladner's son, stated that the first home had been built in 1869 "near his uncle's house on the west side of Chalucthan Slough." That house was moved circa 1874 to the east side of the slough behind the timber belt north of what was then called Semiahmoo Road now Ladner Trunk Road. About 1879, according to Ellis, the family moved "to a new but only slightly improved house... erected near the Slough and south of Semiahmoo Road."
The third Ladner home was the stately residence built for Thomas Ladner's second family. His first wife, Edna, had died in 1883 and he had remarried in 1884 choosing Minnie Parr, a young California woman, to be his second wife.
The date 1893 is often attached to this house but 1894 is correct. The New Westminster paper reported in March 1894 that "Architect Grant is calling for tenders for the erection of a two-storey dwelling at Ladner's Landing for Mr. Thos E. Ladner." A later entry in April 1894 reports the beginning of construction with the claim that Ladner's home is "the finest residential building in Delta." No doubt the 14-room house could justifiably be referred to as a mansion in these parts especially since it was the creation of the pre-eminent architect of New Westminster.
Architecturally, the style can be described as late Victorian, characterized by its asymmetrical appearance, created by varied roof lines, together with turrets and bay windows. the entrance porch, with its decorative pediment, added to the unique design. Above the porch an open verandah with arches and columns was later closed in by windows. The builder was a man named Teedham, also of New Westminster, and not, as earlier believed, J. B. Elliott, the busy local builder responsible for many of the heritage homes in Delta.
Thomas and Minnie retired to Vancouver in 1909. Thereafter, the house was for a time lived in by their daughter, Violet Ladner Peele, and her family until she left for California in 1930. It continued to be a family residence, even during the years when it was occupied by tenants, the last being James and Dorothy Mowat. From 1939 onward they kept the house filled with foster children.
In 1944 the status of the Ladner house changed. It was bought by Paul Dirks, proprietor of Ladner Bakery on Delta Street. He lived here with his family for four years, after which the family moved to living quarters above the bakery.
The new owners, the Haslams from Calgary, remodelled the Ladner home and turned it into accommodations for tourists, perhaps an earlier version of our modern bed-and-breakfast concept. But that scheme lasted only a short while, even with a classy name like Park Lodge.
In 1951 the house, still called Park Lodge, was transformed again. This time, it became a convalescent facility with accommodations for twenty people. It was turned over several more times , with several owners, including Paul Dirks for a second time, and made into a boarding house.
The year 1973 was a fateful one for the Thomas Ladner home, known to the end as Park Lodge. The last owner, Jack McKinnon, had it demolished with the intent of replacing it with a commercial development. It is a tragedy that this community was unable to summon the resources to save this magnificent building. It is also ironic, given that many other less well known and less grand homes have survived and prospered.
Interestingly, for many years after demolition, the land stood vacant before Trenant Park Square shopping mall was finally built in 1989.