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Historical Buildings of Chrissiesmeer

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Die Ou Sending Pastorie  (SANDSTONE GUESTHOUSE)

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The sandstone used to build this house, originates in Stoffel van der Vywer’s lakeside farm as does the stone of the old and new NG Church and the old “pastorie”. The stones were transported to town by ox-wagon. Stoffel van der Vywer began construction himself in 1928, but Piet van der Vywer finished it in 1935. Piet was the secretary of the town’s Health committee at the time of the difficult years of the depression. He could only build when he could spare a little cash. Piet, by the way, has in his possession, one of the teeth of the last hippopotamus that was shot in the big lake.

The man that cut the stones was Willem Prinsloo from the farm Darlington. Such a stonemason is called a “dresser” now a day non-existent. It is a trade that died out once machines began to hew and saw.  Piet van der Vywer sold the house to Dawie de Villiers in 1945 and at the time he rebuildt the stoep with the help of Italian prisoners of war who stayed on Paul Fick’s farm.

In the sixties the garage was converted into a residence and a new garage and stables were built – unfortunately not with sandstone, because “dressers” no longer existed.

The house was used for a considerable time as a “pastorie” for the Reformed Church’s minister as well as for the NG Church’s missionary. It was purchased from Jannie Roux in 1995 by Johan and Marietjie Blignaut for a residence. The house was converted into a guesthouse in 1998.

The Old Jail (JAILED BIRD GUESTHOUSE)

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The buildings first cell was already built before 1887, because the oldest photographs of the town were taken in that year and the first cell is clearly visible in the photograph on examination the outside walls of the building clearly show that the second cell was built later.

The cells were built at the same period as the inn on the opposite side of the street. Chrissiesmeer was on the link routes between the road to the Witwatersrand and Natal and the road from the Rand and the diggings at Pilgrim's rest, Lydenburg, Barberton, and Algoa Bay. The Inn did good business with mail-coaches and fortune seekers travelling by horse or on foot and we presume that the prison cell was mostly occupied by men who drank too much or who were involved in fights.

In front of the cells the foundation of single offices and buildings are visible. Early in the century they just like the link routes through the town, were in use after the discovery of gold in the Witwatersrand. On the adjuring stand, where there is evidently still half a wall, was at one stage, also offices, possibly also a house and a charge office. It seemingly burnt down and was never in use again.

The substantial old stone cells survived the time and were converted into a special guesthouse for the owner, a professor attached to the Vista University in Pretoria. The cells are bedrooms and the corrugated charge office were changed into a living room / dining room, a kitchen and a bathroom.  

The Old Methodist Church (THE CHURCH HOUSE GUESTHOUSE)

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Like the other sandstone buildings in the town, the building stones for this little church also originate from the rocky outcrops alongside the lake. In all probability also from Stoffel van der Vywer's lake farm.

One of the special features of this church is the six corner stone’s joining one another on both sides of the entrance door. Each one of these stones has a Roman letter from I to VI. These numbers correspond to numbers on the bronze plaques inside the building on which are engraved the names of the six persons who unveiled the stones in 1918. It was a Methodist Church completed and used for service in 1919.

Because the town lay quietly and dreamed, the congregation languished in the course of time. Unfortunately the pulpit and benches disappeared over the years, perhaps stolen? It was later no longer used as a church and stood empty for a long time. At one stage the farm school used it as a storeroom and a woodwork room. 

In 1986 Otto and Innes Tamsen, a retired married couple from Pretoria, bought for R 1 000.00. They restored it with love and great care. The window frames were rebuilt and the Oregon floorboards were sanded and re-varnished It was artistically transformed into a home for the couple who lived here until 1993.

They sold the little church to the present owner Maryna Matthee. Maryna says she did not buy the little church, it bought her. After spending numerous weekends here with a friend, she decided to turn it in to a guest house. Maryna built own place to stay alongside the Church house. Her house is now the "Church Mouse”. Guest who has stayed alongside the Church house says that they hear a mouse playing in the violin in the "Church Mouse". Is this possible?

The Old Hotel   (LAKE CHRISSIE LODGE)

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Somewhere under the buildings on this stand there are probably remains of the original farm house and stables that were built here before 8 May 1889, because on that date, AM Cambell, on behalf of the firm of Parker Wood, wrote to the Transvaal government to exclude the single stand and ownership from the remainder of the town which were being sold to the Transvaal government.

A house and stables stood on this fenced stand. How and where it disappeared is not know. It is common knowledge that numerous houses, stables and kraals were burnt by the British forces at the time of the Anglo - Boer - War - this could have happened here.

This typical country hotel was built in 1945 and although it was extremely successful at first, it began to deteriorate two or three decades ago with the depopulation of the country. At one stage it ceased to be an inn and only functioned as a bottle store. It was bought by Marieta Taljaard in 1990, which immediately begin to renovate so that it could be opened again for guests in September of that year.

The lodge's popularity reaches far beyond the borders of the district. People in the know maintain that nowhere else in the country can you eat such delicious Sunday Buffets as in the Lodge's dining room. The dining room has a unique fireplace that is made with hand-beaten copperplate and in the hunting season it is lit each evening for hunting parties who prefer to stay here.

The ladies bar with its copper counter top is an exceptionally desirable place to visit - and the winter days and evenings are also snug and warm when the corner coal stove begins to glow.

The extensive gardens are particularly enchanting in the summer and photographs have appeared in magazines.

DUMBARTON OAKS-HOTEL / CLARKE'S SHOP (BALLIARD COTTAGE)

dumbardon oaks

Dumbardon Oaks 2

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This old inn was built in 1890 by the famous John Jack. He was a Scot from Glasgow who came here on 1880 to seek his fortune and afterwards became one of our most famous industrialists. Together with August Simmer they started the Simmer and Jack Company in the Witwatersrand, on the Elandsfontein farm on which Germiston later developed.

Jack initially opened a general dealer store in the town in a building that no longer exists. Later on he had the inn built. The building was known in its early years as "The Gin Shop" because gin was sold in big black bottles. The building consisted of three sections, a post office, the Gin Shop and sleeping quarters. Food was made in the "Dutch Oven" on the left of the steps.

The inn was an oasis and a place for wagons and coaches to relax and riders from the dirt roads between the Witwatersrand and Barberton and Dilagoa Bay. Clarke's Shop, the shop on the stand, is still recognisable and also probably did brisk business.

John Jack planted the first oak trees in 1886 and one of the later owners, Tony Price, commemorated the date on a plaque on one of the trees.

At the turn of the century a second hotel or inn was built on the stand, it was a wood and iron structure. On the left were the bedrooms, two bathrooms, a storeroom, a lounge and a bar. Behind this building was a washroom. The main stone building was then also built with a lounge of 26'x36' with 3 "bay windows". There was also a kitchen with a service hatch and a pantry. On the original side an outside bathroom with 12 adjoining bedrooms were all built of wood and iron. 

In 1930 the hotel and bottle store was bought by Mr Tony Price. He cleaned and renovated it and for many years there after it was a successful and popular hotel. Price renamed it the DUMBARTON OAKS HOTEL.

Well know people called and stayed over during these times, the notorious murderess Daisy de Melker, the famous actress Moira Shearer, Lord and lady Farrington and the late king Sobusa of Swaziland.

After Tony Price's death in 1955 only the bottle store did business. People suspected that the railway line built between the Witwatersrand and Natal and the greater gold mining activities on the Rand contributed to the hotel's decline and closure.

The Old Mill ( McCLOUD’s - DUVET Shop)

Old Mill

 

 

One of the most interesting residences in the town is the historical old manor house at 78 Parkwood street. ( Now the house behind the Froggy coffee Shoppe) This manor house was original built for the manager of the country branch of Parker Wood & Co. Parker Wood had an important part in the local economy. It dealt in various farming equipment and general requirements and there were 11 established branches in 3 providences. The sandstone building on the street was a mill in the early days and it also had a power generator that supplied the town with electricity.

The McCloud Duvet Shop is presently housed here, an undertaking that makes genuine wool duvets which are hand knotted once the wool is fluffed by machine. The owner, Tinus Stone's duvets have already been used for 2 years in countries such as England, Germany and also Siberia. The factory is exclusive and duvets are custom made in size and thickness for each requirement, usually made to order. The factory is therefore not in production every day. 

McCloud’s  is only the second Duvet Factory in the country. The other one is in Middelburg in the Cape and the duvets are totally machine manufactured.

See Arts and Crafts for more info.

THE REFORMED CHURCH / Die Hervormde Kerk

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The corner stone of this church was laid on 20th April 1892 and it was used for the first time on the 29th April 1893.

At first the present congregation of Ermelo fell within the borders of the Chrissiesmeer congregation but subsequently Chrissiemeer worked together with Ermelo so that they could have their own church. It was inaugural ted in 1910.

The original building was somewhat smaller and is no longer the modest little church that stands today. The congregation increased to such a degree after the Anglo-Boer war that two wings were added to accommodate all the church-goers. Later the town and surroundings became depopulated. In 1953 there were still 290 souls and in 1991 only 75, and since the community has little changed. The church building was again decreased in size, a new interior wall was built across the building and the pulpit was moved forward. That old pulpit, which was over 100 years old, was so creaky that it was replaced with new one, which was made by one of the congregation (Pierre van Staden) out of Oregon, from the superfluous church benches.

BARCLAYS BANK BUILDING

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This little sandstone building was the first bank building in the district and was erected in about 1906. Many years later a branch of Volkskas opened, but the Volkskas bank was ordinary brick construction.

Just as the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand damaged the business in the town so did it befall this bank and after a few years it closed its doors to the public.

The building was sold to a private owner who did a couple of additions which consequently led to its deterioration. The interior is restored  in 2003 and Ton Sanders is living there now.

There are attempts to twist First National Bank's arm to display the necessary lettering outside, so that it can be genuine historical monument.

But perhaps this is not such a good plan because the town is crime free. If someone thinks there is real money in the bank perchance, we would have our first bank robbery?

CHRISSIESMEER TRADING STORE (McCloud’s Factory)

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This stone building was the original handwork and property of the van der Vywer brothers who had a share in the sandstone and construction of numerous stone buildings in the town.

They began to trade in their first shop in the town in about 1943. It was a stone building on a stand opposite the present town-hall. The building no longer survives today. A few years later this building was built of clay bricks and it is here that they started to trade.

In 1950 Schalk Meyer bought the stand and the shop and it began trading as a general dealer serving the farming community of the district. They sold everything on earth: groceries, hardware, dress fabrics, knitting wool, clothes, jewellery and gifts - and also coffins. Later Meyer built the residence and storeroom, next to the shop, but sadly it does not exist anymore.

The Meyers moved into a beautiful stone building in about 1968 and thereafter the store slowly stopped trading.

Thinus Stone bought the stand and started his beautiful wool duvet factory in the same old building in 1997.

THE OLD NG CHURCH BUILDING  ( NG Kerksaal)

NGKerksaal

 

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In 1911 the Ermelo church council agreed, in principle, that Chrissiemeer should have its own church (until this time it was a country district of the NG Church at Ermelo) and on condition that the building cost would not exceed six hundred and fifty pounds. It would always only be a church building for the Chrissiesmeer area and not be a separate community. Ds Paul Nel from Ermelo laid the corner stone on the 1st May 1912. The inscription read: Ned. Herv. Ephesians 2 verse 20.

The church was used for service the following year. Initially nagmaal was only held twice a year, but no confirmations could take place here.

In 1925 they applied to form a separate congregation and in 1926 it was approved. The first full time minister was Ds DR van der Meulen - at an annual salary of 400 pounds. 

At the time of the Depression the church and the congregation struggled financially to keep its head above water, but in the course of time circumstances improved, the congregation grew and new bigger church building could be considered. The new church building, on the stand apposite the old one, was dedicated in 1951 and thereafter the old building was converted into a congregation hall. Later additions and renovations converted into a big useful kitchen and cloakrooms.

THE NEW NG CHURCH BUILDING / NG Kerk

NG Kerk

 

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Mr K C F Deist was the builder of this exceptional church. He is the father of Prof. Ferdinand Deist, famous for his many books about the religious life. 

Evidently Mr Deist Build 23 stone churches all over the country. The stone for this church originates on Mr Stoffel van der Vywer's lake side farm.

Deist was an exceptional person, a man proud of his expertise. Ds R B Murray, the minister at the time, relates how he questioned the man about why he buried the beautiful cut stone so deep underground, surely he could have used uncut stones? Deist answered: "No Dominee, where the eye does not see it must be just as tidy as where it is visible. Perhaps one of my great grand children will come here in a hundred years and if the ground was washed away on the slope and a piece of uncut stones would be exposed and then they would say - look how great grandpa mucked up!

The weather-cock on the steeple has an interesting history. It is made of copper and has precisely the shape of a real rooster. Even the tail feathers are cut out. It has a rounded shape and is not made out of flat copperplate. Since 1904 it was on top of the Bosman Street Church in Pretoria. It fell off its steeple during thunder storms and was repaired (regaled according to a German method) and was erected on this steeple in 1951.

ST GEORGE'S ANGLICAN CHURCH

Anglican Churc

 

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The stone from this exceptional little sand stone church also originates from the quarry on the farm bordering the big lake that originally belonged to the van der Vywer family.

Building began on the church in 1913 and the dresser or stonemason was, according to church records, one R S M Royston. Trading has it that Willem Prinsloo from Darlington farm was also involved as a stonemason. It is maintained that the church was designed by Sir Herbert Baker, architect of the Union Buildings in Pretoria, but it cannot be determined with any certainly. 

Of St George, the patron of this church, very little know. He is alleged to have come from Palestine where his grave can be seen at Lydda. One can read legends about him since the sixth century. He is the patron saint of England.

The key of this little Church could be found at Heather 082 299 1103.

THE OLD "PASTORIE" 44 MITCHEL STREET

 

 

 

The authors Roelf van Rensburg and his wife Ettie Bierman are since May 1997, the owners of this house with its high pressed ceilings, Oregon floors and thick stone walls. Ettie has written about 150 romances as well as serials and young people stories. Roelf is especially famous for his novels for the youth which are prescribed by education department.
This old pastorie, the first N G church pastorie at Chrissiesmeer, was occupied in August 1929. The first minister who lived here was D R van der Meulen. During the days following the depression years he was involved in a feud with the church committee and was dismissed by the church council. He was succeeded by Ds J P Joubert. In 1939 the annuals minute the additions of a room. The Jouberts had quite a number of daughters, thus we presume that it was as bedroom possibly the verandah room on the north-east corner of the house. It was Ettie Bierman's writing room.

Drs Joubert was followed by Ds WH B Ebersöhn and in 1947 by Ds RB Murray. 

The sandstone from which the house was built possibly also originated from Stoffel van der Vywer's lake farm, because the church buildings came from these. Unfortunately this cannot be ascertained with any certainty. 
Shortly after Ds Murray's departure and the completion of the new church building in 1951 there were further additions to the pastorie. The kitchen was enlarged and the first garage was built. Also a generator for electricity was brought. Later another garage was built by one of the private owners.

In 1958 it was decided, as soon as the full amount was available, to build a new pastorie on the stand a joining the old pastorie, and in 1969 it was occupied. The stone pastorie was sold in that year and since then has been in private owner ship.

Roelf and Ettie was the third private owners and with plenty of love and hard work have restored it to its former glory.

The Sandstone Post Office

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