Va. Beach Historic 1760s Home Becomes Veterinary Clinic – Chesapeake Bay Magazine


Chesapeake Bay Magazine
The Best of the Bay
Dr. Heather Brookshire and dog Fergus (a Spinone Italiano) welcome guests to the future Animal Vision Center of Virginia. Photo: Kendall Osborne
Virginia’s carefully-preserved colonial history means that there is a surprising number of circa-1700s homes that still exist, full of architectural details and original wood floors. But we’ve never heard of one operating as a modern veterinary clinic.
In Virginia Beach, that’s about to change. Come next year, the historic Pembroke Manor will be home to the Animal Vision Center of Virginia, a facility caring for pets with vision problems that comes complete with an operating room.
On Saturday October 29th,  Heather Brookshire, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and owner of the Animal Vision Center of Virginia, and her team held a Historic Howl ‘o Ween to introduce Pembroke Manor as its newest clinic location. The event included bobbing for hot dogs, a pet costume contest, food truck, and animal adoption opportunities. There were tours of the house, and renderings of how it will be transformed into a veterinary ophthalmology treatment center.    
According to the City of Virginia Beach, the king of England gave 800 acres of land in Virginia to Jonathan Saunders in 1694. The original plantation included all of what is now the Pembroke section of the city.  Saunders’ grandson built a beautiful two-story brick home on the site in 1764, named Pembroke Manor.  The home is a few blocks north of Pembroke Mall, and is now surrounded by condos and apartments.  The Georgian-style house originally had 12 fireplaces. Built in Flemish bond, the house remains in solid condition. As with so many houses of this period, the floors are beautiful heart pine. Pembroke Manor is listed on both the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.    
With the help of a variety of firms, a new interior design will provide the most modern equipment but also retain the historic charm of the building. The first floor will house a reception area and two examination rooms. There will also be a room for minor surgeries. The second floor will contain an operating room for more complicated surgery, as well as offices, a meeting room, and a pharmacy. The previous occupant of the house was a technology company, and they already updated the wiring.  (There are more than enough ethernet cables.)
“The previous tech firm also installed large conduit from the 2nd floor to the first. We will be able to use that to deliver medications from the 2nd floor pharmacy to the patients on the first floor,” said Dr. Brookshire. They will have to cover the beautiful heart pine floors in some areas. “We are going to put a floating floor in the operating room. It will provide modern flooring while protecting the heart pine underneath.”
On the grounds outside, they are planning a “low vision park” for pets and their owners. This will be a safe and quiet area where pets can relax with their owners. Pets can recuperate in safety, in an area free of startling noises and activities. “This is something I have wanted to do for a long time,” said Dr. Brookshire.    
Why an old house? Dr. Brookshire told us, “We love old houses and buildings. When looking for a suitable location with our realtor, I noticed this historic building. The realtor was not encouraging, but as soon as I learned more about the property I knew it would work.”
The Animal Vision Center of Virginia specializes in treating problems such as Corneal ulcers, dry eye,  glaucoma, and even cataract surgery. They treat all animals for all ocular problems. They provide free treatment for service animals, and discounts for seniors and active duty. They also care for the eyes of critters at the Virginia Zoo, Virginia Living Museum, and the horses of Untamed Spirit.
The new facility should be up and running in early 2023.  You can find more information at  animalvisioncenterva.com.
Kendall Osborne

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