Cowies Hill man­sion on the mar­ket

An his­tor­i­cal home on the out­skirts of Dur­ban of­fers ev­ery­thing the dis­cern­ing home­owner could ever need. Lea Ja­cobs takes a look in­side

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ONCE the site of the Buf­fel­skop farm owned by Wil­liam Cowie, Cowies Hill in Pine­town, near Dur­ban in KwaZulu-Natal, re­mains one of the area’s most beau­ti­ful sub­urbs. Quiet tree-lined streets are the or­der of the day and while lower ly­ing ar­eas in the city are of­ten at the mercy of high hu­mid­ity lev­els, Cowies Hill’s el­e­vated po­si­tion and the fact that it is slightly more in­land of­fers a some­what cooler cli­mate.

Light­stone sta­tis­tics re­port that 92.67% of homes in the area fall un­der the free­hold ban­ner and that the ma­jor­ity of own­ers have lived in the sub­urb for more than 10 years. This fact is re­flected in the sales sta­tis­tics which record that while sales have re­mained pretty con­sis­tent since 2005, the num­bers are on the low side. On av­er­age 15 prop­er­ties have been sold per year since then and 13 homes have changed hands so far this year.

Per­haps bet­ter known (or cursed) by those run­ning the Com­rades Marathon, this elite, sought af­ter sub­urb fea­tures one of the last five mur­der­ous hills in the down race.

“Cowies Hill is close to Dur­ban and is well po­si­tioned within a net­work of high­ways such as the M13, M19 and N3, mak­ing the city cen­tre as well as ma­jor nodes to both the north and south eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble,” says Lee El­lis, the in­land di­rec­tor of Tyson Prop­er­ties.

“It en­joys a more tem­per­ate cli­mate than cen­tral Dur­ban with a unique coun­try am­biance, thanks to the ad­join­ing Palmiet Na­ture Re­serve.”

One of the area’s more fa­mous prop­er­ties has re­cently come onto the mar­ket. Rockhaven, a beau­ti­ful ex­am­ple of Cape Dutch ar­chi­tec­ture, was built by Al­fred Cyril Braby in 1921. The orig­i­nal founder of Braby’s di­rec­to­ries and a lead­ing fig­ure in the prov­ince’s pub­lish­ing and me­dia in­dus­try, Braby moved from the Berea in or­der to en­joy the healthy cli­mate and lush green sur­rounds of Cowies Hill.

Ideal for an ex­clu­sive bed and break­fast es­tab­lish­ment, bou­tique ho­tel, for­eign con­sulate/em­bassy or just as the stately home it has been for nearly a cen­tury, Rockhaven is sur­rounded by 4,500m² of flat land­scaped gar­dens and com­prises the main homestead plus two sep­a­rate dwellings.

Rockhaven ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures in­clude teak sash win­dows, wood carved ar­chi­traves, yel­low­wood beams, teak doors, and quarry-type tiles that run the en­tire length of the house.

The main dou­ble storey home fea­tures a wooden pan­elled en­trance hall around which a num­ber of re­cep­tion rooms are ar­ranged.

“Th­ese el­e­gant rooms have high ceil­ings and soar­ing win­dows which heighten the feel­ing of space. They have orig­i­nal yel­low­wood beams, are dec­o­rated with fea­ture cor­nic­ing and have ei­ther ex­quis­ite brass light fit­tings or chan­de­liers,” says El­lis.

There is a for­mal en­ter­tain­ment-size din­ing room which is ideal for gra­cious en­ter­tain­ing as well as a sep­a­rate break­fast room which leads off the kitchen. The kitchen has a wide range of fit­ted ap­pli­ances and gran­ite work­tops, a pantry and scullery and am­ple stor­age space.

Also on the ground floor is a large for­mal sit­ting room, en­hanced by a ma­jes­tic man­tel­piece and fire­place. This leads into a charm­ing in­for­mal liv­ing room with an im­pres­sive open fire­place and dou­ble wooden doors that lead into the gar­den. A stately bil­liard room with a full size ta­ble is also lo­cated in this area. It is flanked by a wood pan­elled re­cep­tion room which is cur­rently be­ing used as a study. A util­ity room and a cloak­room com­plete the down­stairs lay­out.

A sweep­ing wooden stair­case leads from the en­trance hall to the first floor. Here, there is a large mas­ter bed­room suite with a dress­ing room lined with fit­ted wardrobes and shelv­ing and abath­room with bath, shower, dou­ble basin, bidet, and toi­let.

A sec­ond en-suite bed­room with a bal­cony is lo­cated on the op­po­site side of the first floor. Two more bed­rooms with a com­mu­nal full bath­room oc­cupy the re­main­der of the up­stairs space.

Two sep­a­rate self-con­tained dwellings are lo­cated on ei­ther side of the main house — one is a one-bed­room “de­signer pad”, with mod­ern, fit­ted kitchen, en­trance hall, din­ing room and lounge. The other has a sim­i­lar room con­fig­u­ra­tion with an ex­tra bed­room, study and sauna.

“Th­ese two dwellings could eas­ily be rented out to ten­ants, bring­ing in ex­tra in­come. Al­ter­na­tively, the units could be utilised as of­fices, en­abling an owner to work from home,” says El­lis.

Ad­di­tional fea­tures unique to Rockhaven in­clude a stone wine cel­lar and a bore­hole. The en­tire prop­erty is walled and has a state of the art se­cu­rity sys­tem.

There are garages for at least six mo­tor ve­hi­cles and plenty of park­ing for visi­tors.

Rockhaven’s mag­nif­i­cent gar­den also sets the prop­erty apart. Braby’s wife, Maud, took five years to cre­ate the ex­ten­sive gar­dens and em­ployed 13 gar­den­ers to take care of the prop­erty, orchid houses, or­na­men­tal ponds and veg­etable gar­den. To­day, the well­man­i­cured land­scaped gar­den boasts many es­tab­lished trees and shrubs, orig­i­nal pe­riod foun­tains, a heated swim­ming pool, jacuzzi, large wood and glass atrium and a sunken gar­den with a sun­dial.

Due to the size of the prop­erty and its lo­ca­tion in the lush veg­e­ta­tion that nat­u­rally grows in Cowies Hill, a wide va­ri­ety of wildlife and birds are of­ten seen in the grounds.

El­lis says that the prop­erty not only en­cap­su­lates his­tor­i­cal beauty but also links in with mod­ern day con­ve­niences such as good shop­ping, med­i­cal and ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ties.

“The best way to mea­sure the qual­ity of life in an area is by how long peo­ple stay,” El­lis ex­plains. “In Cowies Hill, where most prop­er­ties are free­hold and new res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ments are few and far be­tween, peo­ple buy to stay.”

Price: R11.95m Con­tact: Tyson Prop­er­ties Sharon Cock­erell Brown 082 466 5069 Of­fice 031 266 2544

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