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Heritage sites declared Print E-mail
17 August 2011

The reserve contains 19 stone-walled Iron Age settlements

A baker's dozen buildings in Joburg have been declared protected, meaning they will be preserved as examples of the city's heritage.

SEVENTEEN provincial heritage sites have been declared, 13 of which are in Joburg. This gives them official protection.

Herman Charles Bosman shot his step-brother in this house in Bellevue
Herman Charles Bosman shot his step-brother in this house in Bellevue
"It's exciting; we're getting there," says Maphatha Ramphele of the Provincial Heritage Resources Agency (Phra). Some sites have formal protection, others have provisional protection, meaning that discussions with owners are ongoing.

Once complete, these sites will be given full, formal protection. In the meantime, they have protection for two years.

"This is a step in the right direction," says Eric Itzkin, the deputy director of immovable heritage in the arts, culture and heritage department. "We are taking real strides after a number of years with very few being declared."

He says the City nominated a number of sites, based on its heritage register. Most of the sites now declared are City-owned.

"I am so excited to have these declarations and have been told that we only have to wait another week for others we are seeking," says Flo Bird, the chairperson of the Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust, a civil society pressure group.

Among those are the Richmond laundry site and St Aubyn's in Westcliff.

Sites in the south
The structures now protected stretch across the city. Down south there are the unique Credo Mutwa Cultural Village in Soweto; the remnants of Tswana structures in the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve; struggle veteran Lilian Ngoyi's house; and the Wemmer Pan precinct.

The Credo Mutwa village consists of symbolic clay sculptures and structures on a site of several hectares in size, in Central Western Jabavu.

The buildings depict a variety of African building styles while the large, painted sculptures are of human and animal figures depicting African culture and folklore. Many of the figures have a mythical quality. The site has provisional protection.

Aerial photographs of Klipriviersberg reveal 19 stone-walled Iron Age settlements dating from about 1500AD. A total of 90 sites have been identified in the broader area, suggesting a large, settled pastoral community.

The unique sculptures and structures at the Credo Mutwa Cultural Village in Soweto
The unique sculptures and structures at the Credo Mutwa Cultural Village in Soweto
These Tswana peoples lived on the koppies, building stone walls to surround their inner kraals and living areas. The site also contains Voortrekker remnants in the form of a ruined farmhouse and a graveyard.

During the 1890s, Klipriviersberg was the base for the Ninevites, led by Jan Note or Nongoloza, a black criminal gang which operated on the Witwatersrand during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The site has provisional protection.

Lilian Ngoyi's house in Soweto, in which she lived with her two daughters from the 1950s, was her prison for 16 years – the time she was under house arrest, the longest period anyone in the country was confined to their home.

She spent most of her time in the tiny shack in the yard, sewing and writing letters. She died in 1980 at the age of 69. Unfortunately, the house has been revamped and lost its rounded, elephant-roof character that is typical of Soweto. It has provisional protection.

The Wemmer Pan site consists of Pioneers Park, the illuminated musical fountains, the Rand Pioneers' Memorial, the Wemmer Pan Rowing Club, and the James Hall Museum of Transport. It has provisional protection.

The buildings in the Wemmer Pan precinct, bounded by Turf and Wemmer Pan roads and 11th Street in La Rochelle, have been given provisional protection.

In the CBD, Kippies Jazz Club, which was refurbished in 2010, has been given formal protection. Kippies, which dates from the mid-1980s, was an international jazz venue, where most of South Africa's jazz greats once played.

It was named after the saxophone player, Kippie Moeketsi. It closed in 2005 when structural flaws were discovered, but after being refurbished is no longer a jazz club - it operates now as a special events venue.

Northern suburbs
Most of the other sites are north and east of the CBD. House Eikenlaan, today Mike's Kitchen, is in St Andrew's Road, Parktown. It was built for James Goch who arrived here in 1886 and set up a photographic studio.

The Seymour house in Parktown now has formal protection
The Seymour house in Parktown now has formal protection
He moved in with his family around 1905. The double-storey house had 12 rooms, a coach house and a stable, and a long driveway lined with oak trees which gave it the name Eikenlaan (lane of oaks). It became Mike's Kitchen in 1982, and is now a busy restaurant. It has formal protection.

Beacon Royal, on the corner of Louis Botha Avenue and Grafton Road in Yeoville, is an art deco treasure. Built in 1934, the building was derelict by 2002, when it was bought and refurbished by a property developer. It has now been restored and stands proudly again in the suburb. It too has formal protection.

The house in which Herman Charles Bosman lived for a brief time, and where he accidentally shot his stepbrother, has also been given provisional protection. It's at 19 Isipingo Street, Bellevue.

Mahatma Gandhi's house at 11 Albemarle Street in Troyeville, now has formal protection. The house was probably completed in 1903.

Gandhi moved in with his family in October 1904, renting the house until mid-June 1906, when he got involved in the Bambatha Rebellion, volunteering to form a stretcher-bearer corps. He never returned to the house.

This was a time in his life when he was a successful lawyer in the city, but also a time when he was formulating his non-violent resistance philosophy.

The Ellis Park Triangle cottages in Bertrams, bordered by Fitzroy and Erin streets, have been given provisional protection. The 17 houses date from between 1910 and 1914, and consist of two rows of modest workers' cottages making up a wedge located on the east side of the Ellis Park sports complex.

They are examples of working-class architecture of the early 1900s.

The Berea Fire Station in Mitchell Street, referred to as the Doll's House because it has a fairytale feel with its decorative finishes, has been given provisional protection. It was completed in 1910 and restored by the City in 2006, and remains a working station.

Melrose House in the Melrose Estate has also received formal heritage protection. The house was built in 1897 for Henry Brown Marshall, a businessman who emigrated to South Africa from Scotland in 1878. Marshall Street and Marshall Square were named after him.

The house was owned for many years by Gavin Relly, the former chairman of Anglo American. In 2004, it was bought by the late Brett Kebble, who wanted to turn the property of 713 acres into a townhouse complex with 15 units.

But this never happened and when the present owners bought the house, it had been vacant for seven years. It was in a derelict condition, but it has been lovingly restored and renovated. The large estate now contains five other homes, all built in the same Victorian style.

House Seymour in Parktown has also been given formal protection. It dates to between 1909 and 1911, and is an elegant double-storey house with three A-framed gables and a wraparound veranda on the ground floor.

Itzkin says the declarations mean that owners of Joburg sites will benefit: they can now apply for a 20 percent reduction in their rates.

Alberton, Pretoria and Krugersdorp
Other sites are in Alberton – the Alberton Police Station, in Van Riebeeck Street, and the Alberton Farmhouse in Brackendowns. Both now have provisional protection.

A site in Pretoria, the Meat Board Building, on the corner of Hamilton and Vermeulen streets and now referred to as Nipilar House, is to also receive provisional protection. The Dadoo Block in Krugersdorp has received formal protection.

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