Historical Herbert Baker holds its own in vibrant mixed-use precinct in Somerset West

The listing by Pam Golding Properties of a uniquely restored Herbert Baker home in Paardevlei, provides a rare opportunity to own a piece of Cape history in one of Somerset West’s popular suburbs.

The home, which is a National Monument, is one of nine Herbert Baker-designed properties at the entrance to the historical Paardevlei precinct that was once the site of the AECI ammunition plant. It is being marketed exclusively through Pam Golding Properties for R5.79 million.

According to historical records, the Herbert Baker structures were built in the 19th century to provide accommodation for those working at the factory. Baker was also responsible for the design of most of the administrative buildings on the site. Cecil John Rhodes bought the land to house an explosives factory and he chose this site, along the coastline, because it was viewed as a strategically safe location. In the 1960s, the AECI factory between Somerset West and the beach was the second largest dynamite factory in the world. Now, it has become a bustling hub of commercial and residential activity as the mixed-use suburb of Paardevlei.

Many of the original buildings are now used as offices, or as homes that form part of this unique, secure gated community. This particular home, on the Paardevlei Lifestyle Estate, is a treasure because it has been restored with modern finishes that honour the time period in which it was built. Unlike the other homes in the row, that were restored by the developer when the site was developed, this home has been considerately renovated by the owner, and finished in the same charming style it would have had more than a century ago.

“The result is a unique blend of vintage and current design trends that combine to create a welcoming and elegant home,” says Gisela Spingies, Pam Golding Properties agent for Somerset West. “Each room has been immaculately curated, to create a timeless piece of South African history.” The attention to detail extends to the manicured garden, which provide an ideal backdrop for the stunning mountain views.

Much like the factory workers who lived here all those years ago, residents of Paardevlei are able to enjoy the beauty of the local wetlands, with its rich birdlife, while being close to the sea. Now that the area has been developed, residents also have access to medical facilities and recreational attractions, including the Cheetah Outreach and the Lionel Smit Art Studio.

Then there is of course, also the appeal of being able to call one of the buildings designed by this renowned architect, “home”, says Louise Varga, Pam Golding Properties area manager for the Helderberg. Baker is considered one of South Africa’s best known architects, and his body of work includes landmarks as such as the Union Buildings in Pretoria, St George’s Cathedral and the Mount Nelson Hotel.

“To own a historical building, in one of Somerset West’s growing mixed-use hubs, presents an exciting investment opportunity,” adds Varga.

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