The Settlers Park Monument is in fragments, the Horse Memorial is missing its Soldier, and Queen Victoria has a green dress.  All across the nation, monuments are covered in graffiti and paint. The bronzes are corroding, the marbles are stained, and the iron is disappearing everywhere, but this is all in a day’s work in the life of an art conservationist.

In September 1969 an earthquake hit the town of Tulbagh damaging a large number of highly significant buildings on Church Street. What followed was nothing short of remarkable as people from all over the country pulled together in a fight to save the built environment heritage of the town. The article below, which appeared in the Simon van der Stel Foundation's 1973 journal Bulletin, tells the extraordinary restoration story.

[Originally published in April 2015] At a time when many memorials have been neglected and dozens of statues have been vandalised it is wonderful to report that the landmark South African / Anglo Boer War Memorial in Saxonwold is being restored. Scaffolding is in place and a competent contractor has been appointed.

This fantastic article describes Cas Nel's 'Partnership with Pabst' during the restoration of the famous Joki House in the late 1980s. A huge thank you to Cas for sending through the superb photographs.

The partnership approach facilitates the achievement of excellence in architecture. It is an approach in which a spirit of co-operation is the basis. It relies on a partnership of various skills that is synthesized in the process of the project.

On a Saturday in mid October 2015, a group of Johannesburg Heritage Foundation members gathered in Rissik Street in front of what older Johannesburg citizens knew as the Johannesburg City Hall. Today the building is the Gauteng Legislature. We met on the City Hall steps, standing on what was once the historic market square, laid out in Johannesburg in 1886. It is a space that has seen vast transformations, buildings have come and gone, ideas about city centre layouts have altered.

[Originally published 24 April 2013] In 2009 local businessman Gerrit van der Stelt stumbled across a small demolition notice attached to a boundary wall of the highly significant Tait House in Benoni. What followed was a desperate struggle by the community to preserve the historic home. The Heritage Portal is happy to report that not only is the house still standing but it could also become a powerful symbol of the ability of old and new to coexist and thrive.

After many years of depressing headlines there is finally some good news for the Germiston Carnegie Library. The following fascinating piece has been compiled by Nicholas Clarke, the heritage consultant on the project. [Originally published 13 October 2014]

Named after the appeal judge, Sir James Rose Innes, Innes Chambers is prominently positioned opposite the South Gauteng High Court on Pritchard Street, in the heart of the Johannesburg CBD. Originally the offices of the Johannesburg Bar, Innes Chambers was purchased by the Department of Public Works in the early 2000’s, earmarked for redevelopment as the Johannesburg offices of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).


In the late 1980s Dr Nic Woolff compiled the article 'Lessons Learned from Restoring the Donkin Row Houses'. It was published in Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). If sentiment on the ground at the moment is anything to go on, the current developer has not learned any lessons and therefore this piece might make depressing reading for members of the heritage community. Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish the article.

[Originally published 31 August 2015] On Saturday morning we visited the award winning Drostdy Hotel in Graaff Reinet. We had been hoping to see the recently refurbished landmark for some time and a spontaneous stopover on the way back to Johannesburg from Port Elizabeth presented the perfect opportunity. 


When we visited the Eastern Cape in 2013 we were very sad to see the state of Grahamstown's second oldest building - the Old Gaol (pic above). There has been talk for some time of millions being invested and SAHRA using the site as a flagship heritage training facility. We certainly hope these plans come to fruition quickly. While digging in the archives we come across this short but fascinating piece on the restoration of the Old Gaol in 1984.

Standard Bank Chambers, on the corner of Harrison and Fox Streets in the old financial district of Johannesburg, was for decades the bank’s biggest branch and, for a time, its head office. Designed by Stucke and Bannister and completed in 1907/8, it is one of Johannesburg’s historical and architectural treasures. Over the years many committees have suggested it should be declared a National Monument / National Heritage Site.

The façade of the Provincial Building in downtown Johannesburg never fails to turn heads. It was preserved and incorporated into Surrey House in the early 1990s. Below is an overview of events compiled by Johann Bruwer (published courtesy of the City of Johannesburg).

The following epic case study, written by Albrecht Holm, appeared in a 1996/7 edition of the old Johannesburg Historical Foundation's Journal 'Between the Chains'. It not only highlights the significance of the site but also the skill of a spectrum of professionals needed to achieve the spectacular result.

The Kimberley City Hall is one of the city's major attractions and a declared heritage site. It may be hard for current visitors to imagine a time when the future of the building was in doubt. Below is an article describing heroic efforts to save the landmark building in the mid 1970s. It was published in Restorica, 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.

In the article below Lesley T Townsend takes a brief look at the history and architectural style of the Bo-Kaap as well as the major restoration project that took place in the early 1970s. The article appeared in the 1975 edition of Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation, today the Heritage Association of South Africa (HASA). Thank you to the University of Pretoria for giving us permission to publish.


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