A stroll round Calitzdorp 2

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About A stroll round Calitzdorp 2

A stroll round Calitzdorp 2

Calitzdorp on foot - walk 2

Queen Street was the most important road into the village and when it was the main street it must have naturally been the centre of activity.  As the village slowly expanded and shops moved elsewhere the existing buildings, some of which occupied the same sites as others before them, were changed into Victorian dwellings.  A great number of these were the property of the Brinks and their close relatives, an influential family of the time.

The beautiful poplar trees which used to line the street were destroyed during a violent storm in 1930.  The street joined up with the "Road to Little Jerusalem" (the old Oudtshoorn road) as this road was then called because of the great number of Jews who resided in that town.  On the eastern side along the street can be seen the canal ("leivoor"), the work of the harness-maker Kood Roux who was also the builder of several houses elsewhere in the village.  The canal was originally faced with stone and coincided with the construction of the historical Nelsrivier dam between 1913 and 1918.

At the instigation of Dr Jannie Nel, a relation by marriage of the Brinks, the street was tarred in 1943 by one Broodryk.  It is also interesting to note in passing that the first cemetery was located in the vicinity of the present Queen's Lodge.  In the name of "restoration", a sometimes totally misunderstood term, reckless alterations are unfortunately carried out from time to time.  As a result Queen Street, a valuable cultural and historical heritage, is losing its specific  character of authenticity at an alarming tempo.

1.  Handelshuis on the corner of Queen and Geyser Streets.  The use of the splayed corner, as can be seen here, is directly derived from the late Georgian style.  The building, erected in 1908, is one of the last to have been erected for a member of the Brink family namely J.S.F. (Frik or Grasveld) Brink.  It became the major shopping facility for the builders and constructors of the Nelsrivier dam.  Frik, later assisted by his son Johan Ludolf, operated the shop until 1918.  In recent years it was modified into its present state with the back part a permanent residence.  Fortunately it has retained most of its original exterior characteristics.  According to tradition there had been a water-mill on the same site.

2.  20 Queen Street - Karoo Life.  This used to be the dwelling of Calitzdorp's best-known wagon builder, Andries Blignault, who was an esteemd resident and the grandfather-in-law of the well-known Afrikaans author Audrey Blignault.  Though the plot had been proclaimed as early as 1857, the present house dates from the 1880's when it was most likely built by Blignault.

Until a number of years back it was considered the best local example of the late Georgian style  but was regrettably spoiled by insensitive alterations when fake sash windows and shutters replaced the originals and the interior changed beyond recognition.  Prior to that its beautiful Regency-style verandah was also removed.  According to tradition the pulpit of the second church, which was re-installed in the present one, was constructed in the workshop which used to be at the back of the main building.  Cobblers also practised their trade here.  As late as 1964 the municipal minutes referred to this property as "die skoenmakers-erf" (the cobbler's plot).

3.  21 Queen Street.  This late Victorian house was designed and built for attorney L.J. Bredell, son-in-law to the ostrich Baron Gert Olivier of "The Towers" in Oudtshoorn, shortly after his marriage in 1907.  The architect must have operated over a wide area for there exists an identical house in Oudtshoorn.  Bredell was also paymaster for the labourers constructing the Nelsrivier dam as well as secretary of the local DR church.  One is immediately struck by the little decorative gable - a whimsical Baroque indulgence.  The wing to the left is a later addition.  On the whole, the house is typical of its period.

4.  16 Queen Street.  Up to quite recently this shop was most definitely one of the most precious in the street.  It had an extreme simplicity and honesty as well as a general restraint, typical of the late Georgian style.  Despite careful restoration something of this was somehow lost, possibly by the over-eager use of colour.  Since however it had been in a bad state of repair one is glad that it was saved from total neglect.

The splayed corner, a late Georgian development as mentioned earlier, indicates that there once must have been a road running down in the direction of the river.  The verandah, supported by boiler tubing uprights, is of the type that became fashionable in 1860.  During the Calitzdorp District Races of 1880 and 1885 the shop was also used as tote office and meeting place of horse racing enthusiasts.  The last shopkeeps were members of the well-known Katz family (see 14 Queen Street).  The house dates from the second half of the 19th century, the plot from 1881.

6.  14 Queen Street.  The esteemed teacher, Willem Verschuur, bought this property in 1878, possibly from W.J. Hansen who had been the first teacher of the DR Church school, inaugurated in 1857.  It served as a dwelling, shop and postal agency, Hansen being the postal official for six months in 1860 and Verschuur from 1877 to 1885.  In 1883 it changed hands, becoming the premises of the firm Fleming & Mudie who, in turn, sold it to one M.J. Lourens.

Six years later the Verschuur descendants bought it back and it remained in the Verschuur family until 1943, the last being W.E. Verschuur, headmaster of the school, who traded here for many years.  The new owner L.A. Pretorius, just two days after purchasing it, sold it to M. Katz whose family was to become the best-known Jewish shopkeepers in Calitzdorp. The main structure as well as the front door of the house are still original although its thatched roof and wolve-end gables were done away with (see the photo in the museum).  This modification might have coincided with the addition of the stoep and verandah in the 1880's.

7.  St Mark's Chapel, Queen Street.  Before the erection of this chapel in 1880 all services of the local Anglican church were conducted in a room of a private house.  It was due to the zeal of Happy Sarah Baldwin that the chapel was eventually built.  The bell was cast in London and bears the date 1880.  During 1908 the church was enlarged by the addition of a vestry and fitted with a reed ceiling.  The beauty of this building lies in its stark simplicity.  There is a possibility that it could be the second smallest Anglican church in the world, the smallest being St Jude's in Scotland.

8.  12 Queen Street - Homestead.  The Homestead is a rather interesting structure.  At the back part of the original building, dating back to the first half of the 1800's, can still be seen including its double casement windows and in the loft a section of the thatched roof, now covered with corrugated iron sheeting.  This first little cottage was situated on the farm of C.C. Stassen.  In 1887 J.N. Stassen sold it to J.J.S. Geyser (1851-1896) who between 1887 and 1890 extended and enlarged the front part into a double-storey.

In the 1880's flat-roofed double-storeys had become quite popular because of the availablility of iron roof sheeting.  There is a vague awkwardness about it, yet fascinating, recalling aspects of peasant architecture.  After Geyser's death it became the joint property of his descendants and Brink in-laws.  An interesting feature of the outbuilding is the unusual parapet.  During the late 1880's Geyser's father, Frederick, used it according to tradition for his butchery and in the 1920's one Kalie Oosthuizen also had his butchery here.  Still later, in the 1930's, it became the service station of Sam Fivaz though still in the hands of Geyser's inheritors.

9.  Police Station and Magistrate's Office, Queen Street.  The main section of this plot dates from its proclamation in 1892 at which time it became the stand for the "church house" of the wagon builder, J.F. Koertzen, who in the 1920's served as a council member.  Before it was demolished to make way for the present building it had become known as the spookhuis (haunted house), belonging to a Ferreira family who also had a bakery on the premises.

The present building was erected in 1939 in the neo-Cape Dutch style and was enlarged in 1986 by an addition on the left.  It had its heyday in 1991 when awarded the Kristo Pienaar prize for the best-kept garden of any police station in the country.

10.  7 Queen Street - Port Wine Guest House.  The original house was altered in the 1880's when the wolve-end gables were done away with and again in 1930 when the Regency balustrade and posts were replaced with brick.  It was renovated in 1997.  Its alignment to the road indicates that the original structure must have existed before the street was built.

11.  4 Queen Street.  Originally built for J.S.F. Brink in was later, in the early 1900's, used an an attorney's office by C.C. Brink.  At one stage it also served as post office as well as the home of the postmaster, although remaining Brink property.  The style was inspired by the 16th century Italian architect, Palladio, and may be described as neo-Classical.  Characteristic use if made of rooms on either side of a shaded stoep.  The windows of these rooms came from the now-demolished ostrich palace "The Towers" in Oudtshoorn.

After 1830 massive mouldings became increasingly popular.  An example is the cornice of this building.  The decorative outer corners, or quoins, are also evidence of a growing exaggeration and rustication.  The fretted balustrade on the stoep is from the house next door (2 Queen Street) taking the place of the previous lattice work.  This house has been  in the Brink family since it was built.

12.  3 Queen Street.  This beautiful little late Victorian house was built in 1915 for Hansie Vinson, daughter of J.S.F. Brink.  The use of the so-called "bull-nose" verandah, like this one, became general practice from 1900.  Features which distinguish this house as a genuine architectural statement of its time are the compactness of design, the pleasing proportions of the different elements and the use of appropriate decorations.  Despite its relative modernity it can be considered a real treasure compared to many other buildings in the vicinity.

13.  2 Queen Street.  A contractor by the name of van der Westhuizen built the original Victorian house for Tom, son of J.S.F. Brink, in 1911.  When it was modified in 1937 to its present style, the characteristic asymmetrically positioned gables of the original were retained.  The heavily moulded doors and spacious stoep with its abundance of pillars create a feeling of status and luxury, typical features of Edwardian buildings.  It still belongs to the Brink family.

14.  1 Queen Street.  Originally built as a shop for J.S.F. Brink in the 1880's by the aforementioned contractor, van der Westhuizen, it was also used as a police station, as municipal offices in 1917 and as a hospital during the 'flu epidemic of 1918.  It was only later that it was changed into a residence.  The most striking features of the facade are the parapet and cornice as well as the beautiful Georgian windows on the ground floor.  The stepped parapet is of the type used on Cape Town houses in the 1830's.  At one stage the building was fitted with a Regency verandah similar to that of the art gallery near the opposite end of the street.

Directions to A stroll round Calitzdorp 2

To get to the start of this walk around Calitzdorp, go south from the church along van Riebeeck Street (between the church and the Dorpshuis) until you reach the S bend.  The Handelshuis is the coffee shop with the shady stoep.

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