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

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Some information about the Eureka Cigarette Factory

The L te Groen building today
I am sure a number of Pretoria residents have driven past this quaint little building among all the high rise buildings and wondered exactly what this perfectly restored building's significance is. It is called the Eureka Factory. It is one of few remaining 'flat-above-store' buildings in Pretoria and is thus of typological importance.

The building used to be called the Eureka Factory
It is at 220 Madiba Street, Pretoria

Well, I came across some interesting facts in The Heritage Portal and a number of other sources. This post is reproduced from an article by Pat Ellis.

Centenary of the Leendert te Groen Building Contributed by Pat Ellis SC, Pretoria Bar 
The original text can be read here 

The building which currently houses the library of the Pretoria Bar is 100 years old. It was built in 1903, after the property had passed through the hands of such well-known owners as JHM Struben, GH Nellmapius, Sammy Marks and SA Breweries. 

E.P. Grant Building - taken on 16 December 1904
It was presumably built by one EP Grant, whose name used to appear faintly on the facade before restoration, who then sold it to the estate of one SF Richards, and became the tenant of the new owner. He was succeeded as tenant by the Pretoria Printing Works, the publisher of the Pretoria News until 1914, and thereafter by the Jewish Club, an architects' firm AG McGregor Ritchie and a construction company.

 In 1920 its new tenant, one Leendert te Groen, turned it into a cigarette factory where he produced Eureka cigarettes from locally produced Transvaal tobacco. The front portion of the lower level was used as a shop, and the rest was used for storage. 

Te Groen established his living quarters on the upper level. 

Leendert te Groen, 1877

In 1920 it became known as the L te Groen building 

The Pretoria News building next to the Eureka Factory

A view of the office

A view of the tobacco factory

A view of the shop floor

In 1935 the property was transferred to the Union Government and in 1982 it was declared a national monument. The building was meticulously restored to its former glory and two years later, in 1984, some 347 paintings of the famous painter JH Pierneef were donated by the Department of National Education to the National Cultural History Museum. The building was then converted into the Pierneef Museum where paintings and various other artefacts belonging to Pierneef were exhibited. 

A delightful coffee shop was added on the top floor to attract more custom. As such it formed, for many years, a popular meeting place of members of the legal profession, where many cases were settled or otherwise amicably disposed of in a spirit of postprandial contentment. 

Security, however, proved to be a problem and the number of visitors to the museum declined. In 1997 the Pierneef collection was moved to the new headquarters of the National Cultural History Museum, the newly renovated Mint Building in Visagie Street. 
The building was then simply locked up and left to decay. Fortunately, in 2002, when the Pretoria Bar took up chambers in the adjacent Mutual and Federal Building, later to be renamed the High Court Chambers, it was discovered that the new building was not structurally suited for a library, and it was decided to take a lease on the Pierneef Building, as it had by then become known. 

The building now houses those tools of the trade used by members of the Bar, as well as a valuable collection of old Roman-Dutch vellums donated by erstwhile members and referred to by some as 'those musty tomes of ancient learning'. Ironically, a superb watercolour painting of this building by the Pretoria artist, Peter Wykerd, recently commissioned by the Bar Council, was lost or stolen during the move from Momentum to the High Court Chambers. It is hoped that the artist will pick up the courage to repeat his earlier masterpiece (or that the painting may miraculously reappear). 

The Bar Council is still undecided as to what use the rooms on the top floor should be put. Members are invited to come up with suggestions in this regard. Perhaps part of the building may, with the blessing of the fire brigade of course, be turned into a smoking room in honour of the factory to which it owes its name?

Centenary of the Leendert te Groen Building Contributed by Pat Ellis SC, Pretoria Bar. Read it here 

Horstmann, A. 1984. Die gebou van die vroere Eureka-sigaretfabriek. Pretoriana No 86, 1984. Read it here

Eureka factory, 220 Madiba Street, Pretoria City Centre, Tshwane. Read it here 

The Heritage Portal

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