Stellenbosch favourites

30 September 2014

Which Stellenbosch buildings are the most spectacular? Some Stellenbosch inhabitants listed their preferences.

The list drawn up by Strijdom van der Merwe, the well-known Stellenbosch artist, includes:

  1. Coach House (40 Alexander Street)
  2. Burgherhuis (cor. Alexander and Blom Streets)
  3. Jubilee House (126 Dorp Street)
  4. Van der Bijl House (137 Market Street)
  5. Houses of emancipated slaves (15-35 Herte Street)
  6. De Witt House (Plein Street)
  7. Georgian Street view (100-116 and 127-135 Dorp Street)
  8. 158 Dorp Street

Executive Mayor Conrad Sidego’s motivated list includes:

  • Andringa Street (at the Crozier Street intersection) – during the winter of 1940, rioting among students on the campus started here and was aimed at persons identified as “coloured”. Stellenbosch University has no history of rebellion and the homes in which the coloured community once lived form part of a history that is seldom mentioned.
  • Red House, 68 Kahler Street, Idas Valley (authentic Victorian architectural style) – certainly the only building in this style, and because it is in Idas Valley. Registered by the South African Heritage Resource Agency. It falls outside the usual heritage identity for which Stellenbosch has become known, and also because it is situated in Idas Valley.

    Red House, 68 Kahler Street

    Red House, 68 Kahler Street

  • Oom Samie se Winkel – to go back in time and to re-experience all the well-known smells and aromas of the past, with all products on offer in the shop.
  • Rhenish Church – erected as mission church in 1823, and because the pulpit is noteworthy.
  • St Mary’s Church (on the Braak) – church dating from 1848, and important in the history of Anglicans in Stellenbosch. Neo-Gothic style and one of the churches that had a mixed congregation during the apartheid era.
  • The Labourers’ Cottages, Aan-de-Wagen Road – these houses date from 1902, and indicate what farm labourers’ houses were like. Possibly designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

    Labourer's cottages, Aan-de-Wagen Road

    Labourer’s cottages, Aan-de-Wagen Road

  • 37, 39 and 41 Herte Street – double-storeyed buildings dating from 1841 and possibly serving as housing for freed slaves and coloured persons.
  • Idas Valley Cape Winelands Cultural landscape – the location, history, heritage and natural beauty. The area has additional importance in terms of the history of slaves in the Western Cape.

Bernabe de la Bat, manager of spatial planning, heritage and environment at the Municipality, selects the Rhenish Manse as his favourite because of its setting against the backdrop of the Pieke. “And then there should be room for a group of Georgian buildings in Dorp Street, like Gun ’o Clock, or the Transvalia Complex lower down, or closer to 101 Dorp Street. I think the double-storeyed Georgian buildings standing shoulder to shoulder signify a particular street character unique to Dorp Street.”

Rhenish Manse

Rhenish Manse

Matilda Burden, professor of cultural history and well-known author lists:

  • Schreuder House, Ryneveld Street: One of the few houses in Stellenbosch in which both the exterior and interior have an authentic old-town atmosphere. As a pioneer house it displays a simplicity not present in the more opulent Cape Dutch and Victorian houses. The portion of the original house that is still intact, is believed to be the oldest building in Stellenbosch.
  • Ou Hoofgebou, Ryneveld Street: Built in Classist Renaissance Renewal style with predominant Roman Classic elements was in 1886 the first building in Stellenbosch in this grand style which was used especially for public buildings. The perfect proportions of the building suggest a fitting stateliness for its function as the main building of the old Victoria College.
  • Old Bloemhof School (new the University Museum), Ryneveld Street: This building in the Flemish Renaissance style is a red brick landmark of the town and campus. Victorian, Edwardian and Art Nouveau ornamentation, combined with the structural polychrome, makes it one of the most aesthetically interesting buildings in Stellenbosch. Its connection with education goes back more than a hundred years, first as a secondary and primary school, thereafter as a primary school and since 1991 as a museum.
  • Rhenish Church on The Braak: The Cape Dutch style is well-known as a house style in the Western Cape, but there are few churches in this style. The Rhenish Church at the side of The Braak is one example, built in 1824 as a rectangular church and expanded in 1840 with a Cape Dutch Neo Classical gable, which has since became the main entrance to the church. The gable and the entrance have grooved columns with Ionic capitals. The pulpit, taken over from the Moederkerk in 1863, and other wood cladding gives an atmosphere of nostalgic warmth to the interieur.

    Rhenish Church, The Braak

    Rhenish Church, The Braak

  • Mosque, Banhoek Road: This mosque is architecturally interesting as it contains elements from different building styles, such as the Byzantium dome, the balustrade and the Roman arch openings, as well as the pointed Gothic arch entrance, as well a front gable that evokes the Cape Dutch style, though not the typical form of the style. The use of white rendered walls and other elements combined with the dark green of the dome, roof and ornamentation also points towards Cape Dutch influence.
  • Dorpstreet 37 – 43: The series of houses in Dorp Street, from number 37 to 43 exudes a true sense of Stellenbosch, as they represent different eras in the development of the town. Initially typical Cape Dutch with a symmetrical front, decorated gables thatched roof (18th century), later Victorianised with zink roofs, Victorian veranda and decorations (19th century). In the 20th century they were renovated and today they are homes for people of the 21st century. They reflect something from every century. With the oak trees they form an non-comparable streetscape.

Pietman Retief’s choices include the Moederkerk, the area of the theological seminary, the Schreuder House, the Ou Hoofgebou, the Kruithuis, the Rhenish Church and manse and Oom Jannie’s Coetzenburg House. He links his choice to the ease with which visitors’ attention may be focused on the architecture and history. Each tells a particular story and makes a particular contribution to the town’s character.


Which buildings are your own favourites? Do let us know – it is useful to residents as well as visitors on days that they wish to explore the town.

One thought on “Stellenbosch favourites”

  1. Victor Honey says:

    What about the STIAS building? Surely as “spectacular” for its time and space.

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