We are very grateful to Fred Smith for submitting this fantastic description of 'The Laurels' (Weston Street, Mooi River). The historic home and its magnificent garden are an integral part of the heritage of the area. [Originally published in 2013]
In 1979 Dorothy O'Kennedy, an old resident of Rivonia, commenced a tremendous journey of discovery to find Rivonia's First Shop. Her story was published in the annual journal of the Sandton Historical Association. We retraced her steps but were unable to confirm whether or not the old building is still there. If you have any information on the shop please contribute to the comments section at the bottom of the article. Rivonia has certainly changed since this piece was first published!
Over the last few decades the name Sandton has become synonymous with wealth, luxury and privilege. One could even argue that it has become a valuable and iconic brand. There may be debate about what the brand represents and what it should be used for but very few people have an issue with the name itself. It is therefore hard to imagine that in the late 1960s there was a huge outcry when Sandton was officially named.
Every day thousands of people pass Sandton's first monument without realising it is there. On a small piece of land tucked away near the top of South Road lie the graves of some of the original settlers in the area and the monument erected in their honour. The Esterhuysen family owned the farm Zandfontein in the middle of the 19th century. It is on a portion of this farm that the modern skyscrapers of Sandton have emerged. Below are a few passages from various old Sandton Historical Association journals providing some background on the heritage site.
The competition between Structural Steelwork and Reinforced Concrete in the realm of building construction can be likened to the rivalry between the Springboks and the All Blacks, in the sense that each continually attempts to better the other. The rivalries both on the construction site and on the rugby field have been going for nigh on 100 years and both have their die-hard fans. Fortunately the competition has largely been a healthy one bringing out the best in both.
Potchefstroom today is a city, but in the pioneer years they experienced frontier living at its utmost. The Voortrekkers crossed the Vaal River to colonize the area at the end of 1838 and Potchefstroom was proclaimed on 22 December 1838, the first town to be established by the Voortrekkers. In a short space of time it became a frontier town, the last outpost of 'civilization' for travellers into Africa.