Below is a short write-up on the architectural style of our house

Monday, 28 November 2011

Three Classic Courts in Arcadia

The suburb of Arcadia was established in 1889 and primarily developed as a residential area. In 1911, the area above Church street was subdivided into 87 erven by land surveyor J.H. Fehrsen.  During the 1930’s three medium-high residency buildings were erected in the area in response to the urbanisation of the rural population of Pretoria.

The three historical buildings namely, Clarendon  Court, Twentyman Court and Savoy Court have not lost their original character and style. All three buildings were built in the colonial style and enclose  a courtyard. Tenants are often surprised to find the beautiful flats, with original wooden floors and fireplaces, in the centre of Arcadia among all the high-rise apartment blocks.

Clarendon Court
Clarendon Court – 1929 162 Eastwood Street (8 units) Clarendon Court was commissioned to be built in 1929 and would be one of the first high residency buildings above Church street. It is interesting to note that the flats in this area are contrary to the town planning requirements of the time, as high density dwellings and buildings were placed below (south of) Church street. This could also explain the loose grouping of the buildings, giving them a character of clustered mansions, rather than a single block of flats. These type of flats were known as ‘Flats-de-Luxe’ or ‘Mansion flats’ at the time and a ‘companion volume’ to the British style of homes.
The site for Clarendon Court is placed along Eastwood street which ascends Meintjieskop to the north. The length and narrow width of the site is typical of the erven laid out in 1911. The small flats are arranged around a central courtyard with steps to navigate the sloping terrain 

Twentyman Court
Twentyman Court – 1934 730 Church Street (20 units) The flats of, the two-story, Twentyman Court are similarly arranged around a central courtyard.  The architecture of this building is typical for buildings designed and constructed in the International style in the 1920 to 1940 period.  The financier, a Mr. Strydom, was also responsible for the construction of other medium density housing projects and hotels such as Helena Mansions.
Twentyman court remained unchanged until 1982 when the architectural firm Peter Hattingh & Genote was commissioned to refurbish the building and to enclose almost all the open balconies. 

Savoy Court
Savoy Court – 1935 249 Eastwood Street (12 units)  The owner, HA Newman submitted plans for a ‘new building’ to the City Council of Pretoria on 8 August 1935.  The first foundations for the new Savoy Court were cast on 25 August 1935.  On 9 December 1935 the Arcadia Ratepayers Association objected to the erection of the nine garage units facing Pretorius Street. It appears this objection was overruled.

Reproduced from an original article in ARRA by Marian Cloete - October 2011

Source (and for more detailed information):

Andries du Toit was the man who laid out Arcadia

Arcadia is one of the oldest suburbs and has always been seen as one of the most authentic and attractive historical residential areas in Pretoria. Well, Arcadia is not one of the oldest suburbs in our beloved city but THE oldest pregnant with historical landmarks that have been neglected for too long.
Andries du Toit

Most Arcadians will know that their leafy suburb was established by land surveyor Andries du Toit who was born 8 August 1813 on the farm Eerste River in the Stellenbosch district. His father, Jacobus Fran├žois du Toit, was the fourth generation of the Du Toit family at the Cape and his mother, Gertruda Johanna Buykes was of Flemish origin. Andries studied at Stellenbosch in order to qualify for acceptance at a theological institute in Holland.

Before departing for Europe, however, he fell ill with chronic chest trouble and was advised not to undertake the dangerous sea travels but to take advantage of the dry Karoo air. Andries then settled on the farm Grootfontein in the Beaufort West district. He married Elizabeth Getruda Jacoba de Villiers with whom he had ten children. In order to support his large family, he concentrated on selling, buying and bartering among the Trekboere in the Caledon area as well as with Voortrekkers living north of the Orange River. In spite of his strong religious conviction, he did not deem it necessary to abide by the law. He devised ingenious ways of smuggling guns and ammunition across the Grootrivier. Before long Du Toit was trapped and arrested but he managed to escape to the Orange Free State.

While looking for new opportunities to earn a living there, he met Commandant General Andries Pretorius who invited him to survey farms in the Voortrekker areas. Thus, towards the end of 1856, Du Toit arrived with his family by oxwagon in Pretoria. Among his tools were a ship’s telescope, a spirit level mounted on a tripod to serve the purpose of a theodolite and a trek-chain made up of 50 metal links together with a marking gauge. In Pretoria he surveyed 78 erven that were to be developed on the open square, a task which took him almost a year to complete for an erven was only surveyed when a buyer came forward to join the people who had already settled there. His surveying method may have lacked sophistication, but it proved to be extremely accurate when qualified land surveyors checked the measurements many years later with modern instruments. On 2 May 1857 Du Toit was sworn in as the first landdrost of Pretoria with responsibilities that would have broken most other men. However, with no government buildings at his disposal, Du Toit had the privilege of working from his modest home situated in the vicinity where the present Lion Bridge crosses the Apies River in Church street. Even before he was sworn in as landdrost, he stressed the necessity of postal connections between poor Pretoria, which he considered as an outpost to which he was moved, and the other towns. He was duly elected to serve as Pretoria’s first Postmaster.
While Du Toit has gone down in history as the man who surveyed the first erven in Pretoria, his pioneering efforts in municipal matters are of equal historical significance. They were as diverse as drafting regulations which dealt with the water supply for the young town, the maintenance of the furrow starting at the Fountain, the control of cattle, and in particular outspanned oxen who posed the constant threat of contaminating the water, and, on 2 June 1857, solemnising the marriage between Jacobus Abraham Botes and Christina Sagarian Johanna Beatrix du Preez, which was the first marriage that took place in Pretoria.

Du Toit was instrumental in having Pretoria declared the capital of the South African Republic and he was involved in moving the seat of government from Potchefstroom to Pretoria.
When his many public functions he had to carry out finally proved too much for him that he, at the age of 45, asked the President for permission to relinquish his post and resigned on 31 December 1859.

Next, Du Toit acquired a tract of land from President Pretorius extending from the present Du Toit Street to the official residence of South Africa’s State President in Arcadia, and this in lieu of a Basuto pony. Perhaps the deal was meant to be a golden handshake after the services he had rendered to the emerging town. The story that Du Toit had named his property after Arcadia – a central region of the Greek Peloponese, idealised in pastoral poetry for its idyllic life and innocence and simplicity, too, is a charming tale that does deserve retelling.
Du Toit set out to survey Arcadia at once, cutting the land rising gently towards the east into 82 erven. He sold the erven to Stephanus Johannes Meintje for £ 1,00 on a promissionary note for three months. After the registration of the sale Meintje received about £250 worth for the deal. Du Toit left Pretoria in 1871 to settle in Nazareth, which was to become Middelburg, where he died on 15 August 1883 and was buried.

Reproduced from an original article in ARRA by Eric Bolsmann June 2010