Formerly a Dutch Reformed Church parsonage it was built using mostly locally acquired material with Government funding in 1812 in the Cape Dutch H-style. High up on the gable is an hour glass with extended wings as a reminder that “time flies”.
The curved steps at the rear of the building leading to the cobble-stone courtyard were added in 1820 and the hand forged railings on the front stoep were added in 1835. The most famous of the ministers who occupied the parsonage were the Rev Andrew Murray and his son Charles until his death in 1904. By 1906 the building was used as a boarding establishment for girls wishing to train as teachers and renamed Reinet House by Miss Helen Murray, principal of the Midlands Ladies’ Seminary during which time the building underwent renovation to conform to the Victorian style of the day. Reinet House had an extensive garden and the old vine, a Black Acorn, planted in 1870 by Charles Murray still survives albeit slightly reduced due to fungal rot.
In 1944 the unoccupied building had fallen into disrepair. In 1947 the building and a plot behind the building were purchased by the Graaff-Reinet Publicity Association. Restoration work was started in 1952 and was completed in 1956. On the 1st May 1980 fire destroyed the back portion of the building but fortunately the contents were saved and reconstruction undertaken with the aid of public donations.
During 1973 to 1974 a wagon house was built and in 1978 a Mill House was completed with an operative water wheel.
The museum houses a fine array of period furniture and kitchen utensils, doll collection, medical and dental collection, haberdashery and clothing collection, wagon and transport collection as well as a blacksmith collection.
The Graaff-Reinet Museums are so understaffed that they cannot embark on genealogical research when visitors request immediate assistance. Please make an appointment well in advance (not the day before) so that we can arrange for someone to assist and give our undivided attention.