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Welcome to the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation


Once the highest building in Johannesburg

Johannesburg was never a one horse town. The miners’ tents and tin shacks soon gave way to brick buildings. The first one was the gaol and it fell down. But within three years there were three storey buildings and the Gezondheitskomittee had appointed a building inspector.
The Johannesburg Heritage Foundation has grown from the Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust which was founded at a time when the bulldozers were knocking down houses by the dozen in Parktown for the hospital, for the park, for the College of Education and eventually for the office blocks. Legislation changed and most heritage houses are protected now in Parktown and Westcliff. We have been widening our scope over the last 28 years and finally taken the plunge and changed our name to correctly reflect the work we do.     
The City of Johannesburg has grown immensely and the task is huge, but there is a need for a proactive organisation ready to do battle and defend our City’s heritage. There is also a need to recognise that adaptive re-use is essential. We can’t hang on to every old building in this dynamic metropolis. Sometimes it will be Adapt or Die, but there are some places which are such treasures that it will be Beware! Treat it with the utmost care.



2nd Quarter Programme - Apr to Jun 2014 - click to download word document else view it on-line under the Events section. Click to view the Newsletter.

Johannesburg Heritage Foundation Constitution


Dear Member,

In preparation for the Annual General Meeting which is being held at Northwards on Saturday, 19th July, 2014, attached is the Notice of Meeting and also the Chairperson’s Report


Radio Today

HERITAGE TODAY! - A programme for all those who care about out old buildings. They can now listen to the podcasts by clicking on the link.

Tuesday mornings at 10h45                        Stay tuned.


Where were you on Mandela Day?

The research team was in the Brixton cemetery removing iv which conceals names and even breaks the stones apart – powerful stuff!

Merle Ruff, Silas Raseala, Flo Bird, Michael Fleming, Mary Boyeasse, Luke Goncalves and our energetic photographer Sarah Welham isn’t in the picture. This very handsome family plot of Francis Henry Barry  and wife Florence Isobel belonged to a family who had Baker design their home in Parktown – 7 Campbell Road.

It is more fun working on the graves of people you know about so E. L. Bateman and Archie Crawford and Mary Fitzgerald get special attention.


Museum Africa

Presby Church Noord St
St. Margaret's De Villiers St
Synagogue Joubert St


Michael Fleming, Sarah Welham and Brigid
Grosskopf enjoying the Building Plans in Museum Africa's archives

Here is a list of the architectural drawing held by Museum Africa

Click here to open the Plans List in Excel - MA Plans List


An astounding collection at Museum Africa

Brigid Grosskopf holds up her gloved hands in joy as she examines beautiful drawings of  Park Synagogue This was a very special occasion for which white gloves were essential.

The special project has involved cataloguing and listing the collection of architectural drawings held by Museum Africa. For years the collection has been safely stored, but completely inaccessible because it could not be catalogued - no staff. So we sponsored the museum specialist, Linda Chernis, who has been working through the collection of thousands of drawings, cataloguing them for the Museum AND at the same time listing them for our research and to enable us to publish the list in Excel for other researchers to use.

The drawings belong to the Museum. We don't have them, but we have the list which you can consult.

it is an important record of early joburg - architecturally, genealogically, socioligcally - they show so much more than just buildings, they give a whole feel for each area and the socio-economic reality of turn of the century Joburg.
It's also a fantastic record of the important architects and landowners of the time, where different ethnic groups/immigrants lived, which areas had indoor plumbing, the kinds of public facilities available, entertainment available etc.  There is an amazing amount of history that is implied by these drawings.

Linda says " It's almost like being an archaeologist digging beneath the surface and finding a whole new civilisation!"

The funding was raised through donations and we had a really happy morning donors and researchers together at the Museum pouring over the lovely drawings which date back to 1892. Some are truly exquisite, some are a lot simpler, but they do give a picture of Joburg when Noord Street boasted the poshest row of houses and the government buildings were very handsome including the dreaded Pass Office and Marshall Square Police Station.

To look at the list press............... and note they are arranged under township,  stand numbers, dates, street addresses, names of architect (if
any) and  name of the client for whom the building was designed. .........
To actually look at the drawings you have to make an appointment and go to Museum Africa which is in Bree Street, with plenty of  open and safe parking across the road in Mary Fitzgerald Square.

You can e-mail Museum Africa on................ but don't expect an instant reply. There is ONE curator who is also the acting director, where 20 years ago there were 9. 

This is a wonderful project for the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation since it is certainly a major contribution to the city and its architectural legacy. We need on-going funding to keep working and because we hope to persuade the City to allow us to move the building plans of demolished buildings from the Metro Centre to the Museum.

My photographs don't convey how beautiful some of the drawings really are. 

Flo Bird




The most recent edition is available by going to that page on our website. I enjoy the journals because this is all primary material  with touches of unconscious humour only time can add.

  • The 1918 Motor trip to St Lucia is almost unbelievable compared with today’s luxury travel.  Who dares to grumble about a pothole after reading this?
  • Sarah Welham has wickedly recounted an expedition into darkest Africa – the north-east side of Town – where we found not only traders and friendly people, but some fascinating buildings we would never have imagined had survived. St Margaret’s School by Baker and Fleming for the Sisters of East Grinstead! The Old Cinerama with the Eduardo Villa panel on the side. We didn’t go inside to check on the Cecily Sash – we had totally forgotten that.
  • Then William Gaul’s Melville Memories. I do hope it will inspire other old Melvillites to send us photographs and stories.
  • I loved Café de Move-on by Costa Phitidis about his grandfather. Searching the Museum Africa Archives Linda found BUILDING PLANS for two of these eateries on wheels. They were clearly taken very seriously indeed.

So enjoy reading it on line opr if you are very old fashioned and want a hard copy please e-mail Eira  on 011 482-3349 and arrange to collect one. Theyw ill definitely be avialable at the AGM. They cost R35 each.

Click here to open Journal V4



Dear Flo

I would like to thank you and the members of the Heritage team for the beautiful card and generous donation you made to me for playing the organ during your visit to St. Mary’s.
I enjoyed all the enthusiasm and the atmosphere tremendously.

It is wonderful to know that the Church is getting some much needed T.L.C. through the Heritage Foundation and the generosity of the Donors. My Late Mother, Jean Little, was also part of the Foundation and I recall typing information into forms dealing with Historic Buildings on her behalf. I think it was during the period she was a Town Planner for Johannesburg.

On the strength of the wonderful afternoon we all had I have offered to play the Organ again at St. Mary’s for one Sunday a month – it will be the 4th Sunday of each month as I am committed elsewhere for the other three Sundays. I have always had one “Sunday off” but feel that the Organ should be played to “blow out the dust” and keep it “exercised” to keep it in tune and ensure that it lasts at least another 100 years!

I am a “lapsed” member of the Congregation but have been the Parish Accountant for the past four or five years so have remained in touch – albeit only “figure-wise”. Now it will be Organ –wise again.

Again, many thanks for your kindness and generosity – and also, in some way,  for getting me to make the decision to give up my “free” Sunday for the benefit of St. Mary’s.

It was good to see you again – and please pass my greetings to Mike when you are in touch with him.

Fond regards

Justin Little




The Gift of the golden Key to the Refectory of St Joseph’s Children’s Home .

We had spotted the Key with its commemorative tag at the Auction of the contents of the Schreiner House in Parktown and as the bidding went way beyond expectations  we gave up hope of getting hold of it. But through the kind offices of William Gaul, Sarah Welham got hold of the succesful buyer, Ladislav Miklas of VAULT Antquies and told the story of the key. Sarah has been researching the history of St Joseph’s Children’s Home for Coloured Children which is perched high on the Sophiatown ridge.   She explained that Mr Justice Oliver Schreiner who had chaired the Board of the Home for many years had been given the key on the occasion of the opening in 1939. We wanted it simply to be able to mount it and give it to the Anglican Dicocese which now occupies the premises – the children having been moved to cottages nearby.

Ladi turned up trumps. He came to see the building which is a beautiful one designed by FLH FLeming and recently restored. He decided to give it to the Dicocese which was really generous.  Bishop Steve Moreo came down to the door for a short ceremony depicted in the photographs below.  Please note key and Bishop’s ring – a handsome twosome .

We will have the key mounted with photographs of the building and of Judge Schreiner, Ladi and the Bisop.  A very happy end to a rather exciting find of a heritage relic.



A letter from Germany.

Post these days is a surprise in itself and a letter about a very special old building in Hillbrow is a joy.

Roger Lecucq who attended the “new” Deutsche Schule in Parktown, has sent pictures of the first Deutsche Schule dating back to 1891. Do enjoy them. Very romantic Bavarian- style architecture with masses of details and ornamentation. What a treasure it would be if we still had it today, but sadly it was demolished to make way for a tall office building north of the Friedenskirche bounded by Edith Cavell Street, Kaptein and Twist Streets. This was the office block we visited on our recent tour of Hillbrow where we were taken inside to see the Andre Huguenet Theatre.  

So if anyone can contribute information on the delightful old building and even more photographs and memories we would love to have them. The German community was very strong in Hillbrow with Café’s and Sausage stalls predominant in my memory but there was also a beerhall and dedicated young women who would report on police brutality during the apartheid era. In fact young German tourists still ask about Hillbrow so it must live on in the memories of their parents.

So keep the conversation flowing.    Who was the Architect?   Where are the old building plans. We have found the original architect’s drawings in Museum Africa’s collectiuon which we are busy catalaogiuing for the Museum and recording for ourselves. The Architect was JF KROLL and most of the buildings he designed with these flourishes and romantic plaster wrok have disappeared. So the drawings are even more treasured along with these pictures.  

PS We continue with the special architecterural legacy project which involves listing and cataloguing the drawings in the Museum Africa collection. They were being held safely, but without being catalogued they have been completely inaccessible. We’ll be publishing the lists for Parktown and Township Johannesburg very soon.  It is a major contribution from us with the assistance of GLH Architects and NO FINANCIAL SUPPORT WHATEVER from the City of Johannesburg. The City cares not one jot for its great asset Museum Africa.  SHAME ON THE DEPARTMENT OF ARTS CULTURE AND HERITAGE AND THE MMC.

More news about what we have found already in the next newsletter..

Deutsche Schule
Deutsche Schule
Deutsche Schule
Deutsche Schule
Deutsche Schule



The Planning Committee of the City of Johannesburg has approved the rezoning of the site inclduing the requirement to rebuild the laundry buildings along Napier Road and to commemorate the Amawasha site.


So now we’ll be working with Imeorial to ensure the reconstruction of the buildings is as accurate and authentic as can be managed, bearing in mind that the laundries stopped operating in 1970 so there was another 40 years in which changes took place.


Member's Tour - 18 to 20 October 2013

See Events Page




Members' Tour to Kimberely



Hand Over

Great step Forward: Handing over the assessments and data base for the heritage buildings in the Joburg City Centre.


The first task the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation undertook after its establishment was to assess the buildings in the centre of town and publish these on our websites and, hopefully, also on the City of Johannesburg’s website.
Listing is the duty of the Provincial Heritage Resources Authority Gauteng (PHRA-G) but since they have shown no sign of doing this we have taken over the task. The City commissioned a number of excellent surveys on the City Centre, but they were never taken to next stage of assigning a value judgment on whether the buildings should be protected or not. We have used these reports by Dr Johann Bruwer as the basis for our assessment.
The ratings laid down in the National Heritage Resources Act are:

  • Grade I    National significance
  • Grade II   Provincial Significance
  • Grade III  Local significance

To distinguish the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation’s assessment from the official ones  Grades A, B and C have been used instead of numbers..
A = Outstanding heritage value – historical and architectural value such as the City Hall which is now the Gauteng Legislature.  This could also be one of truly exceptional buildings like Patidar Mansions.  DON’T TOUCH OUR TREASURES
B = Fine building. Beautiful and probably a good example of a period or the work of an excellent architect, with historical interest. It may also have landmark value such as Stuttafords   TOUCH WITH VERY GREAT CARE, AFTER CONSULTATION, AND DON’T EVEN THINK OF DEMOLITION
C= Good building, part of a significant group and probably contributes to street scene, but possibly only a façade.  DON’T TOUCH WITHOUT CONSULTING JHF. CHANGES ARE POSSIBLE, BUT DEMOLITION WILL BE RESISTED.
So click to get to the listings. Search under street address or stand number and township. The entries cover names or names of building, architect, date, original owner,  SG numbers and geographical co-ordinates. They also have additional information as to other forms of recognition – blue plaque or listing for the Johannesburg Centenary in the Johannesburg 100 and occasionally listing or declaration by the heritage authority.   
Issued September 2013


Anyone altering a building over 60 years old needs help. So we have drawn up a list of consultants whjose work we have seen and which we cite so people can check for themselves whether they have done a good enough job.
Click to find them:





Johannesburg Coat of Arms

The small jam pot in our letterhead is not without meaning or to bring sweetness into your life.

It is the stamp which appears on the earliest Johannesburg Coat of Arms - the actual foot of the crusher which pounds the rock . There were different size stamps 6 pounders or 10 pounders.... the noise was simply unholy but the crushed rock went through the process and became golden sand on the mine dumps.

These tiny stamps are used on the escutcheon plates of the old City Hall and a stylized version is used to number the routes through the city.

So this is a tiny bit of Johannesburg we chose to decorate our logo.



Did you know that:


To help you  in this process we have compiled a liust of architect for whose work in the heritage field we can vouch.

Click here to find our list of recommended architects to assist with Heritage Work.

We have been sent the Latest requirements from PHRAG for permits and for nominations for heritage sites.  PLEASE CLICK on the Form below to down load  these. BE SURE TO USE THESE AS THEY ARE THE MOST UP TO DATE VERSION AND WILL SAVE DOING ANOTHER SUBMISSION

PHRAG Application Requirements or PHRAG Nomination Form


 “A city without a past is like a man without a memory” warned Professor E.W. Mallows
 We need our old buildings to remind us of our roots and to measure our progress.

Contact us on: 011-482-3349  Weekdays (Mornings only)
                  e-mail : mail@joburgheritage.co.za 


"We have made a start ...!"

Introduction to Listings and Assessments

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3




The Northwards Trust


picBarrow Construction






Set up to retain the historic architectural heritage of Johannesburg Foundation Trust. The Trust tries to make this heritage accessible through tours of the buildings and the area, publications and special programmes for school children.

It is a fund-raising organisation and donations are most welcome.




Last Edit : 24/06/2014






Once the Highest Headgear in the World



Man Made Mountain - Mine Dumps



Sky Scrapers Johannesburg

Dorchester Mansions - Astor Mansions - Castle Mansions









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