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Friday Feb 08, 2013

Historic Joburg property may find a new home

There is hope for a derelict heritage mining house that is going to ruin in Delarey.

The City of Joburg is considering relocating it to Verity Park in Parkhurst.

The 1903 mining house in Delarey may be moved, piece by piece, to Verity Park in Parkhurst.

Ward councilor Steve Kotze has expressed concern at the deterioration of the old wood-and-iron mine house, a heritage house.

He said people were living in the house and the decay was progressive. Timber from the wooden railing around the veranda had been vandalised and removed - presumably for firewood, he said.

"My fear is that corrugated sheeting - making up the bulk of the construction of this house - will be removed by 'recycling entrepreneurs'... in the immediate vicinity."

It is doubtful that this area would attract visitors and tourists to view a historical mine house, as is ensuring adequate security at this site.

Kotze said a proposal had been made to relocate the old house to Parkhurst where adequate space could be allocated on a prominent site where commensurate appreciation was assured by visitors and tourists alike.

Eric Itzkin, deputy director of Immovable Heritage, said the city was concerned and wanted to save the Delarey House.

"The city is working on this together with partners who share this goal, and we have put together a proposed solution to achieve this.

"As inidcated by councillor Kotze, this involves the relocation of the structure to a site in Parkhurst. I'm excited about the possibilities for taking it to the new location, and there's a good heritage argument for doing so, but we have to await a council decision on this," he said.

The old building is owned by the council.

The structure dates from the early 1900s, and is built of corrugated iron on a wooden frame.

It is typical of a worker's cottage from this period in Joburg.

The first section was built in 1903 and in 1909 the house was extended in front, with a new Victorian-style fa├žade.

In 1985 the property was purchased by the Roodepoort City Council with the intention of restoring it and using it as a museum.

It was restored between 1985 and 1993, and in 1997 a five-year lease agreement was entered into between the Roodepoort Council and the Roodepoort Afrikaanse Sakekamer.

The house operated as an upmarket restaurant with a heritage theme.

However, following the departure of the Sakekamer, efforts by the Joburg Property Company to find a tenant were unsuccessful.

According to a council report on the house: "The surrounding area in Delarey has seen decline in recent years, and is not... attractive as a cultural destination.

"At the same time, (it) has slipped into disrepair... the house is exposed to squatters and scavengers who have begun stripping the woodwork from the building, and are placing the structure at risk.

"Speedy action is needed to save the building from further damage. In light of the recent vandalism, there is a need to rescue the building by moving it to another location to preserve it... and make it more accessible to the public. This will involve carefully disassembling the house."

The Parkhurst Residents and Business Owners Association have undertaken to raise R100 000 to move the old house to Verity Park in Parkhurst.

"This makes good heritage sense in view of the history of the area.

"Parkhurst was founded in the same year as the Delarey House was built, namely 1903.

"Many of the first houses would have been of similar construction to that of the Delarey House, a simple woodand-iron structure, not much more than a shed on a simple foundation with a dugga floor.

"Over time, this structure would have been (extended).

"By the 1930s few of these structures remained, and by the 1970s they had all but disappeared.

"Houses in Parkhurst have become larger and more elaborate, and with the gentrification of recent years, the humble origins of the suburb have been forgotten.

"The relocation of the house would thus be a good fit for Parkhurst. It would be a reminder of the modest early days. Verity Park was purchased by the city in the early 1930s. The suburb suddenly became popular for commuters in the 1930s when a tramline and bus service was introduced to the neighbouring Parktown North.

"There then arose a need for a recreational area and the land for Verity Park was secured."

The report continues: "In general, heritage guidelines do not encourage making changes to sites where this can reasonably be avoided.

"However, the old house in Delarey is a special case. Here the relocation of the building is required to preserve the building and save it from destruction. The alternative is between losing the building in its present location, or saving it by relocating it to another suitable location."

The Star

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