Last weekend my husband Keith and I spent a weekend in Durban as guests of the Durban Art Deco Society (DADS). I was there to deliver the lecture at the Annual General Meeting of the Society on the Sunday morning at the Phansi Museum but we had about 26 hours to see Durban and pleasure the pulse of the Indian Ocean city which had been Keith’s home town and my favourite teenage holiday destination. I knew Durban from my childhood sojourns and then family visits to the grandparents once we had settled in Johannesburg but in recent years our visits have dwindled so
Art Deco Architecture
Killarney is one of the great historic suburbs of Johannesburg. With its majestic buildings from different eras, there is a great case for it to be declared a heritage area. The article below, written by journalist Lucille Davie, is packed with fascinating details on the people, history and architecture of a majestic neighbourhood. The piece was originally published on the City of Joburg's website on 18 January 2012. Click here to view more of Davie's work.
The unearthing of the programme and proposal to save the Colosseum in the early 1980s led me further into a sleuthing foray. At the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation research centre I presented the 1980s papers. Mary Boyeasse, a keen researcher, then said ‘we have that one already’ but five minutes later she reappeared with a rare original souvenir programme of the 1933 opening of the Colosseum. The 1982 prospectus takes on a new look because the design was based on this original souvenir programme.
Who remembers the Colosseum in Johannesburg? This theatre belonged to the collection of theatres built for pleasure and entertainment when one went to the movies in style and cinemas attracted audiences of thousands watching a single block buster grand epic. With its orchestra pit the Colosseum was versatile; it was a large venue for movies, concerts, and stage shows. It closed in 1985 and was demolished, it transitioned to “Lost Johannesburg” in a flash.
Daventry Court is one of Killarney's heritage landmarks. It was built in 1934 and is located on a block surrounded by Riviera Road and 4th Street. After extensive research, Boris Gorelik published the wonderful report '80 Years of Daventry Court' in 2013. Below are a few passages from the report highlighting growth and change in Killarney and revealing the significance of this iconic building.
The Colosseum was an iconic Art Deco Building designed by the architect Percy Rogers Cook and developed by the entertainment mogul I.W. Schlesinger. It occupied an entire city block on Commissioner Street and formed part of the ‘Great White Way’ along with His Majesty’s, Shakespeare House, the CNA Building and others. The theatre could seat over 2 500 people and its ceiling gave the illusion of a star filled night sky above walls built to resemble fairy castles. Over the decades the theatre hosted hundreds of famous productions, actors and musicians.
We are honoured to publish this phenomenal article on the priceless Art Deco architecture of Springs. Thank you to the Arts, Culture and Heritage team from the Ekurhuleni Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture for sending it through. Enjoy!
Everytime we travel to Wits campus we look up in amazement at the majestic Tower of Light. It has been standing since the mid 1930s and is still a landmark on the Johannesburg skyline. The Tower was rated one of Johannesburg's Top 100 sites in the lead up to the Centenary Celebrations. Below is the statement of significance written by Bernard Cooke in 1985.