Go­ing way, way back in time

SEC­OND-OLD­EST JOBURG HOME: NUM­BER 16 HY-MANY PLACE WAS BUILT IN 1860

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - CITY -

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.

Pic­tures: Heather Ma­son

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