This article first appeared on Lennie's personal blog on 20 September 2020. Click here to view. The main photo was taken by Lize Botes on the night of the fire.
Gone but not Forgotten
In November 1982, Harry Oppenheimer presided over the opening of a landmark fountain in the heart of the Sandton CBD. The fountain, located on the corner of 5th Street and Rivonia Road in front of the Sandton Civic Centre, was donated to the town by Kay Barlow in memory of her husband Charles Sydney (Punch) Barlow.
The series of articles below tells the story of the controversy surrounding the destruction of the Top Star Dump and Drive-In. The articles were written by journalist Lucille Davie between 2006 and 2010. Despite talk of redevelopment the site remains vacant in 2018. Click here to view more of Davie's work.
Top Star Drive-in fights for its life
October 26, 2006
In 1889, just three years after the founding of Johannesburg, the finishing touches were being put on a building that would become one of the city's landmarks for seven decades. It rose almost 30m into the sky and was the tallest building in town until the Markham's Building claimed the title in 1897. Considering it dominated the skyline, it is no surprise that it gained the nickname the 'Eiffel Tower of the Rand'.
While browsing through the book Seventy Golden Years (published by the Johannesburg City Council in 1956 to commemorate the city's 70th birthday), I came across a wonderful advert for Stewarts and Lloyds of South Africa. The company proudly announced that the hitching posts it supplied to the fashionable Athenaeum Club in the early 1900s were still in place over fifty years later. This was despite the Athenaeum being demolished and the reality that horses were no longer the major means of transport.
Looking through old editions of the SA Builder is a fascinating experience. Many of the magazines have high quality photographs (and some sketches) and solid descriptions of projects occurring at the time. As one browses through these projects it becomes clear that only a small number of buildings have survived to this day. Below is a random selection of ten buildings from the 1920s and 1930s that were featured in their day but no longer grace the streets of Johannesburg.
Some time ago I posted an item on the Heritage Portal about the demolition of the 1904 ERPM Clubhouse and the 1908 (Herbert Baker) extension to the ERPM Clubhouse (click here to view). A stop order was subsequently obtained, and demolition of these two structures was halted, but only after they had been broken down by about 80%.
In 1996 the Christian Science Church in Port Elizabeth was illegally demolished. City Councillor Rory Riorden was furious and penned an article for Restorica which we have republished below. Restorica was the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish.
It is hard to believe that the land to the east of the Bryanston CBD was once home to a grand hunting estate. The following article, originally published in an old journal of the Sandton Historical Association, sheds some light on the fascinating story.
A lot has changed since Oscar Norwich compiled this piece about the famous Norman House in Doornfontein in the 1980s. Norman House was a grand mansion frequented by the who’s who of early Johannesburg. We are not sure when it was demolished. If anyone has any information please add it to the comments section below.
If the question was asked what was the Crystal Palace? More than likely the answer would be an association football (soccer) team that plays in the English “Barclays Premier League”. If this was a pub quiz the answer would be correct and it would be next question please, however the more curious minded of us would wish to know how the football team got its name.
In the early 1980s in the lead up to Johannesburg's Centenary celebrations, the Joburg 100 Committee placed the Second Kerk Street Mosque on its list of one hundred buildings of great significance worthy of preservation. The building was controversially demolished in 1989 to make way for the Third Kerk Street Mosque. The latter has since become a landmark in its own right. Below is a description of the Second Mosque compiled by Marilyn Martin and Bernard Cooke in 1984. The photograph above appeared in a 1989 edition of The Star.
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.
In 2011 bold plans for the demolition of the Village Walk Shopping Centre and the redevelopment of the valuable site were announced (Village Walk is located in the heart of Sandton opposite the Johannesburg Stock Exchange). Many commentators were excited yet cautious when renders for a massive three billion rand mixed use development (shops, offices, hotels and gym) were released. Tenants were given notice and demolition was expected to take place in mid 2012.
Sutton Place is a Tudor style complex located in the heart of Sandton Central, next door to Chadrien Place. In the coming years the potential of this land will be harnessed in a large mixed use development. This means that very soon photographs and memories are all we will have left of Sutton Place. Take a trip with us inside this soon to be forgotten property. [Originally published in March 2014]
The demolition of Chadrien Place in Sandton Central (opposite the Gautrain Station) is firmly underway. The landmark Tudor style 'stockbroker' townhouses are making way for a new skyscraper. We are not sure how tall this will be but talk a few years back was of a 30 to 40 storey building. In order to preserve the memory of Chadrien Place we spent a few hours on site over the weekend taking hundreds of photographs and a few videos. Enjoy the selection below. [Originally published in March 2014]