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Tuesday, July 10, 2018 - 06:40

This is Number 12 Park Lane. This property lies between Clarendon Place and Park Lane. It is a property that abuts Hillbrow; it is the other side of the fence to the grand Reya Vaya rapid bus transport system. James Ball reported on the disgraceful state of the property in November 2017 (click here to view). Alas there has been no improvement. How very sad!

It was once a fine old heritage home and a premier Parktown address. It was a near neighbour of fine homes in Junction Avenue and Ridge Road. After it ceased to be a family home it usefully became the Dan Pienaar Memorial crèche. Dan Pienaar (1893 -1942) was a much admired South African military figure who fought in both world wars but is particularly remembered for his leadership in the North African campaigns. He was killed in a plane crash in 1942 on his way back to South Africa.

The current state of the property shows abuse, neglect, dereliction and decay. It is a ghostly abandoned mansion. The garden is wild and overgrown, the circular driveway sprouts weeds and cracked tar. There is no security presence... behind the gates stands a smashed guard house.


Abuse, neglect, dereliction and decay (Kathy Munro)


This once fine old home has a listing on The Heritage Register (click here to view). The architect was the firm of Aburrow & Treeby. The following inscription appeared on the blue plaque: 

Built before the war for Harrison Fraser Watson, a stockbroker and keen sportsman from the Cape Colony. As a British subject he had to leave the Transvaal, returning to the Cape to join the Colonial forces. In his absence Robert Kuranda lived here. He accepted the most unpopular task of commandeering goods, horses and equipment for the Z.A.R. Watson returned when the Stock Exchange re-opened on 24 December 1901. 


12 Park Lane in 2016 (The Heritage Portal)


12 Park Lane Blue Plaque (The Heritage Portal)

My photograph of Monday 9th July shows that there is no longer a blue plaque but once this property was on the trail of the Anglo-Boer War Centenary Commemoration and the original blue plaque carried the logo of the Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust and the old Rand Regiments War memorial. Johannesburg Heritage once awarded this site a B heritage grading. But today the owners of the property (the Gauteng Department of Health) have consigned it to demolition by neglect.


The Blue Plaque is long gone (Kathy Munro)


This property (and there are others in similar condition) exposes a tier of government (the provincial administration) as a failed state, certainly with regard to its responsibility for city heritage. We need a new structure, new partnerships; private enterprise will take on the task of restoration and reinvigoration if only there is a secure tenure. Government is now failing its citizens. Is anyone in the city or the province listening to our pleas? Help us to make our fine heritage properties live again and find new and purposeful futures. Or is all this meaningless to those in power?


New Library Hotel (The Heritage Portal)


Rubbish outside the New Library Hotel (The Heritage Portal)


Where Province owns nature grows. The hugely significant Rand Water Board Building. (The Heritage Portal)


Provincial Government joins the urban farming revolution (The Heritage Portal)


Absolute mess near Custom House (The Heritage Portal)


The Clegg House Tree keeps growing. The pink paint from 2015 is still there. (The Heritage Portal)


The Hospital Superintendent's House has been neglected for years (The Heritage Portal)


Kathy Munro is an Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand. She enjoyed a long career as an academic and in management at Wits University. She trained as an economic historian. She is an enthusiastic book person and has built her own somewhat eclectic book collection over 40 years. Her interests cover Africana, Johannesburg history, history, art history, travel, business and banking histories. She researches and writes on historical architecture and heritage matters. She is a member of the Board of the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation and is a docent at the Wits Arts Museum. She is currently working on a couple of projects on Johannesburg architects and is researching South African architects, war cemeteries and memorials. Kathy is a member of the online book community the Library thing and recommends this cataloging website and worldwide network as a book lover's haven.


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