Old Pretoria homes offer grand lifestyle of bygone era

For many of us living in a beautifully restored historic home in Pretoria with all the modern trimmings is but a distant dream.

Precious few such homes become available and when they do they are usually unaffordable and not always well maintained. A team of private developers has, however, recently snapped up two well-located historic homes, which they have lovingly refurbished especially for the rental market.

Retha Schutte, regional executive for the Pretoria region of Pam Golding Properties, says that these homes not only offer residents charming colonial-style outdoor living but they are renovated with convenience and a modern lifestyle in mind. They are also situated in the older, more central parts of Pretoria. “Developers are rediscovering historic neighbourhoods in the ‘old Pretoria East’ including Waterkloof, Brooklyn, Muckleneuk and Lynnwood,” continues Schutte. “In these areas they are finding that there is a fair amount of interest in well appointed old properties with character.”

One recently refurbished Herbert Baker designed home is situated below Muckleneuk Ridge with a view of Pretoria and to the Magaliesberg in the distance. The “Stone Lodge”, as the home was originally known, was built in 1906, and is one of the first buildings thatBaker designed in Pretoria. This five-bedroomed, north-facing home with a wrap-around stoep (veranda) is on the rental market through Pam Golding Properties (PGP) for R45 000 per month.

Stone Lodge was purchased by developers a year ago and its interior has been modernised in order to let in plenty of light while the old style charm of the original structure has been maintained. According to Schutte, these particular developers have a passion for bringing old homes “back to life” and then renting them out to like-minded individuals who also have an appreciation of such properties.

The Stone Lodge was built for Captain (later Sir) Roland Bourne, who served in the British army during the South African War (1899-1902) and rose to prominence as a civil servant in the Colony of the Transvaal and later the Union Government. Capt Bourne married Lucy Dorothea in 1906 and moved into the home with his new bride that same year. He sold the property in 1922 and moved back to England.

Schutte says the home, which is situated on 2600 square metres of land and has 680 metres square under roof, will most likely appeal to executives or dignitaries who appreciate a classic South African design that takes maximum advantage of Pretoria’s appealing climate. “It is a home for someone who enjoys entertaining and who will appreciate the wonderful outdoor lifestyle that it affords,” she adds. “Residents will also appreciate the good security of the property, as well as its central location.”

“The garden is well established with a number of indigenous plants including old Coral trees, which are at least as old as the house and attract an abundance of birdlife. The lush garden, which is irrigated by borehole water, screens off the neighbours and this, together with the sparkling swimming pool situated on the sunny front lawn, gives the property the ambiance of a private resort. You would never guess that this home is situated within a stone’s throw of the bustling city of Pretoria,” she says.

The main house is built ofkoppie stone giving it a sturdy appearance. While the home does appear robust, it also has some fine architectural features. The front façade has an off-centre front door that is flanked by two sandstone columns that support the veranda roof. This is north facing and is the ideal place to enjoy sundowners whiletaking in the fine garden and view of the city. Alongside the veranda are anundercover entertainment area and a second deep blue, smaller plunge pool for cooling off on those warm Pretoria evenings. A ‘dedication stone’ in Roman typeface tells us that the home was built in 1906 by Herbert Baker and JohnBarrow.

The main lounge and a second living or entertainment room can both be accessed directly from the veranda giving the home a good flow which is ideal for entertaining guests. Both of these rooms have purpose made fireplaces and their beautifully restored Oregon pine floors are a special feature. The interiors of the fireplaces are lined with red klompie (clay) bricks. Two large square timber beams span the width of the lounge and are supported on profiled sandstone brackets. The entertainment room has a door leading to the well-appointed modern kitchen, which will delight the chef of the family. The main bedroom suite is enormous and airy with ‘his’ and ‘hers’ dressing rooms and a brand new bathroom. The suite has north facing double doors, which open directly onto an attractive patio with its own plunge pool.

The rest of the bedrooms are situated in two separate guest blocks. These were built more recently and have been designed to seamlessly blend in with the original house from an architectural point of view. All of these rooms are luxurious and have their own en suite bathrooms. One of these blocks is entirely self-contained with its own attractive lounge and kitchen. With high quality finishes it may be used as additional accommodation or as a staff quarters.

“Muckleneuk has been coming back into vogue in recent years because it offers secure suburban living soclose to the city centre and is situated near every important amenity residents may require,” observes Schutte. “People in Pretoria want to be situated close to their places of work and entertainment, so they don’t have to travel in heavy traffic every day. Muckleneuk provides all of this making it popular with executives, professionals and personnel from the many foreign embassies that are dotted around this part of Pretoria.”

She points out that Muckleneuk is conveniently situated close to the new Gautrain station as well as the N14 and R21 highways. It is only 20 minutes from Gauteng’s business hub of Sandton. Muckleneuk is also in close proximity to the University of South Africa, University of Pretoria and fine schools such as Pretoria Boys High, Pretoria Girls High, Afrikaans Hoër Meisieskool and Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool. Some of the country’s best hospitals including Netcare Jakaranda and Zuid Afrikaanse hospitals are near by while the Brooklyn Mall offers excellent shopping andentertainment. A number of heritage sites such as the Freedom Park, Church Square, Union Buildings, and the Voortrekker Monument are also within easy reach of the suburb.

“Those who want to live in suburban homes that offer both convenience and character are looking to the Pretoria’s old suburbs such as Muckleneuk. Well appointed homes here offer a lifestylethat is hard to replicate anywhere else in the world, which accounts for itsincreasing popularity,” concludes Schutte.

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