Here is an interesting photographic souvenir and important record of early Johannesburg. The title is "South African Goldfields Panoramic and Other Views of Johannesburg, 1889". This small booklet is a rare item as it was published just three years after the start of the town and its mining camp origins. It came to me together with a second little booklet, called "Johannesburg, Golden Centre of South Africa ", also dated 1889, by Charles Cowen.
On September 24th 2015 our private party decided on a Heritage day treat. An excursion for four friends by car to the Sammy Marks House museum. Zwartkoppies Hall was the home of Sammy Marks and his English wife, Bertha (née Guttmann). They lived there between 1884 and 1909, when they moved to their house in Parktown. Thereafter during Sammy’s lifetime it was their country weekend retreat. Sammy Marks died in 1920. It was then that Bertha gave up their Johannesburg home and returned to live formally at Zwartkoppies until her death in 1934.
A visit to one of the top libraries of the world, the private Africana library of the Oppenheimer family, the Brenthurst Library (by appointment only) is more than a treat. For a bibliophile one feels as though one has had the happy experience of dying and being directed to heaven.
Recently my family and I had an absolutely magical night time visit to the Zoo – Grandson Cayde’s 8th birthday party (some time after his actual birthday). We were a large group of about 49 people – maybe half kids and then all the parents, 4 grandparents plus cousins, aunts and great aunt. It was an amazing experience. The 20 plus children were all under the age of ten.
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.
Bookplates are a collecting subject in their own right and are a bibliophile's delight. A bookplate is very simply a sticky decorative label for pasting on the front inside cover or boards of a book proclaiming ownership and indicating that this particular book belongs to xxx library or person. Often the words "ex Libris" appear showing that the book is from a specific library, it could be an individual or an institution. When one acquires an old book with a bookplate it becomes part of the provenance of the previous ownership of a volume.
[Originally published August 2015] Last week Roger Fisher of Artefacts fame (and so much more) got in touch to ask if the small memorial plaque in the Standard Bank, Commissioner St, Johannesburg, for Standard Bank employees killed during the First World War still existed. Letitia Myburgh, Head of the Standard Bank Heritage Centre confirmed that it still did and sent through some details. The email conversation inspired Kathy Munro to write a fascinating piece on the lesser known memorials located in corporate and institutional offices.
The secret of a successful visit to Museum Africa is to concentrate on one exhibition, so giving oneself reason to return for another visit. A recent question on the Breakfast Quiz of Classic FM about the first Traffic Light installed in Johannesburg, triggered just such a focused visit to Newtown, as I set out to explore an evergreen permanent exhibition on Johannesburg Firsts.
The recent articles about Vergelegen on the Heritage Portal brought back happy recent memories of our holiday stay in Somerset West over Christmas 2014.
[Originally published 2 September 2015] The Standard Bank Gallery has put on something incredibly special and you only have until 12 September 2015 to see it. This is, of course, the Pierneef Exhibition. Kathy Munro, Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at Wits, visited the exhibition recently and compiled this absorbing piece. Enjoy.
The Rand Club is one of Johannesburg's great landmarks. It has a rich and controversial history and remains a major attraction for the public on occasions when access is arranged. Kathy Munro, Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at Wits, visited the Club recently exploring every nook and cranny and pondering the future of this iconic institution. The Club has been reinventing itself for a number of years but tough decisions lie ahead...
News emerged last week that the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) is considering using Joubert Park as a temporary taxi facility while upgrades to the Jack Mincer rank are made. This has outraged many Johannesburg citizens and organisations. In the article below Kathy Munro explores the history and significance of Johannesburg's oldest park. If you would like to see Joubert Park remain as it is feel free to sign this petition.
In the article below Kathy Munro, Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand, unpacks the layers of the wonderful friendship between Mohandas Gandhi and Hermann Kallenbach. The piece was inspired by the unveiling of a statue of the two men in Rusne Lithuania in October 2015. Kathy also asks whether it is time for a similar statue to be created and unveiled in Johannesburg.