His­toric space, gen­teel liv­ing

Business Day - Home Front - - FRONT PAGE -

BUILT for Ernest Acutt of Robert Acutt & Sons in 1895 in the sub­urb of Essen­wood on Dur­ban’s Berea, this home orig­i­nally stood on 10 acres of land and was known as Waver­ton. Ernest was a well­known lo­cal busi­ness­man who served as a town coun­cil­lor. He was mayor of Dur­ban dur­ing the visit of the then Duke and Duchess of York, who be­came King Ge­orge V and Queen Mary. The home was de­signed by Wil­liam Roberts, cofounder of the Natal In­sti­tute of Ar­chi­tects, for the Acutt fam­ily.

This prop­erty the later served as the Bri­tish Con­sulate, and it is said that Queen El­iz­a­beth vis­ited for tea in 1947 when she was still a princess. The man­sion was also known as Kin­nord, then Charleston, but is his­tor­i­cally best known as Balquhid­der — a name that it car­ried while it was the con­sulate.

Kathy Lege­maate of Seeff Prop­er­ties, who is mar­ket­ing this home, says that not only is it re­ferred to as an out­stand­ing ex­am­ple of a Vic­to­rian build­ing in D Pic­ton-Sey­mour’s book, Vic­to­rian Build­ings in South Africa, but it has graced many glossies over the years with its con­tem­po­rary feel and con­ser­va­tion awards.

The prop­erty was thor­oughly ren­o­vated 15 years ago ac­cord­ing to the orig­i­nal plans, and was re­fur­bished again seven years ago to al­low for fam­ily liv­ing, while keep­ing the grand for­mal rooms for large scale en­ter­tain­ing.

De­sign fea­tures in­clude lofty 5m pressed ceil­ings, large re­cep­tion rooms and deep ve­ran­das, all of which make this ideal for a large fam­ily home. There is an eat-in kitchen with a gas hob, five bed­rooms mostly en-suite, as well as an ex­tra of­fice/lounge, dou­ble en­suite staff ac­com­mo­da­tion, garag­ing for two cars and a fur­ther two un­der­cover park­ing spa­ces.

The flat, child-friendly gar­den with a large swim­ming pool com- pletes the pic­ture.

The prop­erty also has ex­cel­lent se­cu­rity in­clud­ing 24-hour guards on the two bor­der­ing roads and an elec­tric fence and beams.

Other fea­tures in­clude a wine cel­lar, laun­dry, three work­ing gas fire­places — one in each lounge and one in the main bed­room — air-con­di­tion­ing in all five bed­rooms, plus an en­closed view­ing deck, a so-called Widow’s Walk, at the top of the house.

The pop­u­lar ex­pla­na­tion for the name in coastal com­mu­ni­ties is be­cause it gives a bird’s-eye view of com­ings and go­ings in the har­bour, and so women of the house could watch ships — and of­ten their hus­bands — com­ing and go­ing from the deck, but of­ten mariners did not re­turn home.

Lege­maate says that the cur­rent own­ers, who bought the gra­cious triple-storey home for their grow­ing fam­ily, fell for the home’s unique sense of his­tory and its cen­tral, so­cia­ble po­si­tion.

The own­ers say that they love the sense of com­mu­nity that the Berea of­fers as they know their neigh­bours and most of the lo­cal shop­keep­ers too.

The porch is re­ferred to as hav­ing a “some­what ori­en­tal man­ner” and fea­tures a stained glass fan­light over the front door in­let, a cut glass shaded iron pen­dant lamp and dec­o­ra­tive cast-iron air vent. Breezy ve­ran­das with tiles in shades of ochre, blue and black run the length of the house on both sides, mak­ing it ideal for in­door-out­door liv­ing in Dur­ban’s sub­trop­i­cal cli­mate.

Lege­maate ex­plains that even though one of the cur­rent own­ers is a home­ware buyer, they made use of in in­te­rior de­sign­ers Mario Ro­drigues and An­drew Irv­ing of In­ter­deco to help them achieve the look they were af­ter.

“They wanted to em­brace the gran­deur of the home but at the same time play it down. The house has gen­er­ous pro­por­tions, and the in­te­ri­ors had to live up to the home’s mag­nif­i­cent ar­chi­tec­ture,” says Lege­maate.

Dur­ban’s Berea has be­come more cos­mopoli­tan over the years, and ap­peals to a wide se­lec­tion of buy­ers due to its con­ve­nient lo­ca­tion close to great schools, shop­ping cen­tres and Dur­ban’s CBD.

Fig­ures from Light­stone, a prop­erty sta­tis­tics and data provider, in­di­cate that more than 70% of prop­erty in Essen­wood is made up of sec­tional ti­tle units, which is pos­si­bly why younger buy­ers are ex­press­ing the most in­ter­est in the area.

Close on 43% of prop­erty pur­chases in the area be­tween Septem­ber last year and Au­gust this year were from buy­ers be­tween 18 and 35 years old.

The data re­flects that 280 prop­er­ties were sold in this time frame, around 42% of which were in the R400,000–R800,000 price bracket. Just 3.9% of prop­er­ties sold dur­ing this time frame were priced above R3m. The av­er­age price of a free­stand­ing home in this sub­urb for this year is ap­prox­i­mately R2,6m. Price: R9.8m Con­tact: Seeff Prop­er­ties Kathy Lege­maate 083 6571171

Michelle Funke

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.