Going way, way back in time
SECOND-OLDEST JOBURG HOME: NUMBER 16 HY-MANY PLACE WAS BUILT IN 1860
Each week Marie-Lais looks out for the unusual, the unique, the downright quirky or just something or someone we might have had no idea about, even though we live here. We like to travel our own cities and their surrounds, curious to feel them out. This week she visits an old abode.
In July I visited Joburg’s oldest existing house, from 1852. Joburg’s third-oldest house is in Bezuidenhout Park but, in between, a small house was built way over on today’s Randpark Ridge. A moment ago I had my hand on its very thick wall.
A bit too much has happened here during one and a half centuries, since it was built in 1860.
Heather, Tracey Willis and I are in Tracey and her husband’s bathroom, laughing at terracotta tiles with the Big Five featured on them in three dimensions, a possible 1990s decorator’s dream.
Gradually Tracey is dismantling at Number 16 Hy-Many Place as many cover-ups and faux pas as possible. She loves this space and its interesting energy, now within a townhouse complex.
Tracey swears it isn’t haunted but a whiff of her deceased mother-in-law’s distinctive Amarige perfume was the influential clincher when dallying about buying this free-standing house.
It escaped being knocked down by the townhouse developers prior to the Big Five tiles and, before that, the back of the house was destroyed in a squatters’ fire.
Tracey indicates the historic door frames she’s been collecting because the daughter of one former owner, Tom Kelly, sold the property to Gencor and was requested to remove all floorboards, door and window frames, even the fireplace surrounds, because of intended demolition.
The swimming pool Tracey claims is a rough exfoliator of summer tans was built by that daughter.
When Kelly had it, the property was still a huge farm supporting polo ponies and wild game, though none of the Big Five.
He named Hy-Many after a home in Ireland in the 1920s.
Tracey points to the gables on either side of the wide veranda, which he changed to look Cape Dutch, from the A-frame ones Dale Lace installed. Yes, the very Randlord, John Dale Lace, moved here with his wife José when his fortune diminished.
What we are admiring today is mainly based on what Dale Lace made of the original house, enlarging it to about five times its size. The cavernous brick fireplaces would have been his additions too.
Their family photographs hang on an original wall of the basic rectangular house built by trekboer Labuschagne on his farm Boschkop before Johannesburg was Johannesburg.