The American Government was assembling a site in Arcadia, Pretoria. They wanted the entire suburban block so they could build the largest embassy in Africa. One property stood between them and the full realisation of their plan, an old home called Arkleton belonging to Dr van Bergen. The Americans appointed an independent valuer to determine the market value of the property.
You may have noticed a quaint stone wall with two decrepit wooden gates on Louis Botha Avenue between Acorn Lane and Death Bend. Or perhaps the row of magnificent plane trees just behind the wall caught your attention as you navigated this most notorious of Joburg roads. If you were brought to a stop in traffic, you may have even looked beyond the wall and the trees and seen an imposing double storey property in the distance, and wondered how it came to be built here.
In the article below, journalist Lucille Davie takes a journey around Lindfield House, one of Joburg's unique historic attractions. The piece was first published on the City of Johannesburg's website on 19 January 2011. Click here to view more of Davie's work.
Back in Victorian times the wealthy didn’t mess with security: they posted an armed guard, in the form of the footman, to sleep where the silverware was stashed - in the butler’s pantry.
In the article below, Philip Caveney from the Knysna Historical Society unpacks the history of various homes built by members of the famous Thesen family of Knysna. Click here to download a pdf version which includes footnotes.
The First Generation of Thesens - Mathias Theodore and Arnt Thesen of Stavanger and Knysna
No. 43 St David’s Road had a modest start, being built for one Edwin Hawkes in 1908 at the time of the gold rush. The architect is believed to be Robert Howden who was known for being a Classic revivalist and whose work shows a Beaux-Arts approach. Hawkes sold it to Julius Wertheim sometime around 1915. Wertheim was a solicitor and notary and was very much involved in the community (an attribute which seems to have rubbed off on the present owner). No.
Morley House is an exquisite historic home. I first went there in the late 1980s, when it was a home and antique shop. Oh my... the yellowwood woodwork, red baked floor tiles, crooked passages, low doorways. It was all just so perfect! There is an oldish rondavel in the backyard, which I am convinced might have been the original kitchen. Since there are no known plans, it is difficult to be sure. The bathrooms, would have been added, possibly in place of the old pantry.
On the farm Leeuwpoort near Heilbron in the Northern Freestate are two residential houses built for the Weilbach family, both Provincial Heritage sites.
The Eerste Pastorie was built in 1850 in the newly formed town of Winburg in the Orange Free State of South Africa. It was a house built for the Dutch Reformed Church's Pastor or Predikant (the Dutch word for leader, in this instance Church Leader and is abbreviated as “ds" before his name).
Forest Hall is an historic estate located in The Crags near Plettenberg Bay. It hosts a spectrum of high end functions including grand weddings and corporate events (click here for some recent pics). In the article below, first published in Restorica in 1977, Patricia Storrar delves into the history of this unique property. Thank you to the Heritage Association of South Africa and the University of Pretoria for giving us permission to publish.