Historic homes in demand in Swellendam

Many have been declared national monuments, and a number have been impeccably restored and renovated for use as private homes or guest houses.  Pam Golding Properties reports that historic homes are always in demand in the town, never more so than as it celebrates national Heritage Month during the month of September 2011.

“It is not just the beauty of historic homes which piques the interest of buyers,” says PGP’s area manager for Swellendam, Le Roux van der Merwe.  “Certainly their charm and sense of romance is a magnet for those who have a keen sense of history.  But more importantly, many of these homes occupy the prime positions in town, having been built on sites which were earmarked by early residents for their central location, magnificent views, and proximity to rivers and other scenic locations.  They also tend to occupy far larger plots than modern homes, and to have higher ceilings, larger rooms, and more bedrooms.  We find that these properties are always in demand, not only from South Africans but also from European buyers – particularly our Dutch, German and Belgian visitors seem to have a keen interest in historic buildings.”
PGP’s MD for the Boland and Overberg regions, Annien Borg, says buyers who take these homes and treat them with sensitivity and an awareness of appropriate period restoration, can make a very tidy profit on their investment.  “Fully-renovated historic properties can command a premium price,” she says, “particularly given their suitability for use in the hospitality industry, which is a crucial sector in this town.”

PGP currently has two prime examples on the market in Swellendam – both historic properties which have been restored and renovated for use in the tourism sector.  The first is a late 18th century thatched Cape Dutch homestead which forms part of the town’s oldest group of buildings, centred around the famous Drostdy Museum.  Declared a national monument, the home was once the residence and stables of the town saddle-maker.

The property is currently configured as an upmarket guest house, “The Coachman”, with six en suite bedrooms in the main homestead, plus two luxury en suite cottages in the gardens.  In the main home, four of the rooms are arranged around a sunny courtyard, while the other two are more private, making them ideal for the use of owners or managers.  There is a spacious lounge and dining area with a fireplace, as well as a large country kitchen and an office.  The lush gardens include a swimming pool with adjacent lapa, and a double garage.  The property occupies just over 4000sqm, and has magnificent mountain views.  It is on the market exclusively through PGP at R2.999 million.

The second historic home is one of the town’s most prestigious landmarks, located in the heart of the prime tourist district.  The home was built on Church Square in a typical T-shape layout in 1832, for owner Otto Philippus Falck. Two additional buildings were added in 1860 and 1865, but the property was later left to fall into disrepair.  It was first restored in the late 20th century under the watchful eye of experts from the Drostdy Museum, and enjoyed a 10 year run as an acclaimed upmarket restaurant. But a devastating fire in 2010 gutted the building, destroying everything but the four main walls. The owners have since restored the property again with the utmost care, returning it to its original character and charm.

The main homestead is now ideally laid out for use as a restaurant or art gallery. The front section has three rooms with wooden floors and window frames, while a fourth room in the back leads onto two private stoeps and has its own private entrance. There is also a large kitchen in this area, with a cosy fireplace. Upstairs, an enormous loft area contains an en suite bedroom and spacious living area.  Additional accommodation is provided in a separate cottage, located in its own private garden with a huge oak tree. This cottage has two bedrooms and a bathroom, a kitchen and two lounges. The property occupies 725sqm, and is on the market exclusively through PGP, priced at R3.2 million.

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