Johannesburg Blue Plaques

A through to D

AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH - CHARLOTTE MAXEKE CHAPEL PLAQUE

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Founded in 1905, the Charlotte Maxeke Chapel is among the earliest buildings in Kliptown. The church was dedicated to Charlotte Maxeke in 1938, a year before her death. Profoundly impressed by the African character of the AME church during her studies at Wilberforce University in the United States, Maxeke introduced the denomination to South Africa. A dedicated church-goer, religious leader and activist, she became known as the Mother of the AMEC in South Africa.

Andrew Moketi MoetiMlangeni Plaque

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In 1962 Andrew Moketi Moeti Mlangeni was one of the first six members of Umkhonto We Sizwe to be trained in Communist China. A keen golfer he had now to concentrate on Politics. In 1964 he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Treason Trial and incarcerated in the cell next to Nelsen Mandela on Robben Island. He returned with a degree and post graduate qualification in Political Science – to this home that he had occupied since 1954 with his wife June and their children. In 2015 the backroom boy became head of the ANC’s Integrity and Ethics Committee, an accolade he richly deserved.

AITON COURT PLAQUE

 

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Aiton Court is an internationally recognised example of the Transvaal Group’s modernist approach using simple, readily available and inexpensive materials.  Designed by Angus Stewart and Bernard Cooke in 1938, it included an entrance foyer and courtyard above the street.  In the 1980’s it was one of the first buildings to break apartheid laws by  welcoming black residents, and housed ACTSTOP which championed  the rights of tenants.

Restored in 2014 by Trafalgar Property Management

ANNADALE PLAQUE

 

17 Seymour Avenue

Designed in 1913 for Mrs Annie Sand and her husband, Pheenie, a building materials merchant.  Annadale boasts the wide stoep and high ceilings characteristic of the Transvaal style.  Coming ten years after the initial burst of construction in Seymour Avenueit retains the graciousness and generous proportions characteristic of the Edwardian era.. P.J. Hofman, the architect, came from Oudtshoorn, but worked mainly in Pretoria.  The house was sold in 1931 to Aubrey Edward Harmel.

Aiton Court is an internationally recognised example of the Transvaal Group’s modernist approach using simple, readily available and inexpensive materials.  Designed by Angus Stewart and Bernard Cooke in 1938, it included an entrance foyer and courtyard above the street.  In the 1980’s it was one of the first buildings to break apartheid laws by  welcoming black residents, and housed ACTSTOP which championed  the rights of tenants.

Restored in 2014 by Trafalgar Property Management

AVALON PLAQUE

 

16 Seymour Avenue

Built in 1910 for David W John, a merchant, and designed by the pioneering architects Arthur and Walter Reid, Avalon is distinguished by its double storey bay window and open balcony and veranda giving extensive views across Parktown to the northern ridge. It was respectfully adapted and restored by the highly creative architect Karen Wygers as her own home in 2012. The house highlights the Edwardian elegance which dominated Seymour Avenue.

BC FARM MANAGERS COTTAGE Plaque

4 Barbara Road

Sir George Farrar’s Estate circa 1902.

Restored and altered. Gables are typical of Sir Herbert Baker’s work in the Transvaal and Cape.

BATTLE OF ELLIS PLAQUE

 

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During the 1922 Strike known as the Rand Rebellion or Red Revolt, escalating conflict between miners and mine owners caused Prime Minister Smuts to declare Martial Law. On Saturday, March  11th at 13:30, the Imperial Light Horse Regiment was attacked at their depot on a football field at Ellis Park by the Jeppe and Troyeville Commandoes under the command of Captain Hall MC.  No pickets had been placed and the soldiers were busy getting lunch when the strikers fired on them from the hedges and houses overlooking the field. Within minutes the field was strewn with dead and wounded. The strikers had very few rifles so were unable to exploit a victory achieved through surprise, courage and hand guns. They had organized their own Red Cross vehicles to remove their wounded to the Kensington Sanatorium.

BEAR LODGE Plaque

 

34 St Patrick’s Road, Houghton

The elegantly neoclassic Bear Lodge was designed in 1906 by Robert Howden for Henry John Hofmeyr. Prominent in politics and education, Hofmeyr served as Chairman of the King Edward VII School Governing Body for twenty-five successive years, was Mayor of Johannesburg in 1910/1911, and was elected the first President of the Convocation of Wits University in 1923. Susequent owners of the house incude architect Saul Margo and Upper Houghton heritage champion and architect Rocco Bosman.

Bensusan House Plaque

 

22 Oaklands Road

Dr A.D. (Kin) Bensusanwas born at 22 Oaklands Road in 1921. He developed an interest in photography at an early age, and first put his talent to use as an aerial photographer in World War II. A world-renowed authority on the history of photography, he founded the Photographic Society of Southern Africa, and was involved in establishing a photographic unit at Wits Medical School. Bensusan served as a city counsellor for 16 years, and as Mayor of Johannesburg in 1973/74. His extraordinary generosity resulted in the establishment of the Bensusan Museum of Photography.

BEZUIDENHOUT FARMHOUSE PLAQUE

Bezuidenhout Farmhouse
Bezuidenhout Park

Built by Voortrekker Barend Viljoen and his wife Judith in 1852 as a simple rectangle, the house became the property of their son-in-law Frederik Jacobus Bezuidenhout, in 1863. The bay window was added in the 1890s, and a north wing in 1910. His son lived here until he sold the farmstead to the City for a park in 1949.  During the Anglo-Boer War, the British used the farmstead with its grazing as a remount camp at which horses were acclimatised.

BISHOPSKOP PLAQUE

18 Gale Road

In 1904 architects Baker Masey and Sloper designed this house, tiny chapel and its gardens for Archdeacon Furse. Using the koppie stone quarried on site, Sloper patiently taught the masons to shape the very hard rock. Elevated to Anglican Bishop of Pretoria (the See included Johannesburg) Furse continued to champion the mineworkers. He changed the church’s system of stipends by putting all Anglican priests onto the same graded payroll, operating independently of the wealth or otherwise of each parish.

BOSMAN PLAQUE

 

Site Installation 12 December

BRAKPAN SYNAGOGUE PLAQUE

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 In 1931 the United Hebrew Institute of Brakpan commissioned HW Spicer to design a synagogue. The appealing and solid basilica designed in red brick, symbolised the tradition and faith of the congregation.The Synagogue was extended in 1955. The building provided sanctuary for those of the African diaspora who were victims of the xenophobic riots of 2019. Today the Synagogue is a museum commemorating the Jewish presence on the East Rand. It also serves as an equality centre assisting the whole community.

BROADLANDS PLAQUE

Broadlands, designed in 1947 by L Filipek, is a rare example of sub-tropical deco in Johannesburg. The energy of the building is expressed through a dynamic interplay of forms in its three sections, with corners either crisply articulated or bodly curved. The importance of the entrance is cleverly emphasised by being set back on the stand, and approached through a virtuosic portico topped with the building’s name. The glorius sandblasted glass panels in the vestibule are the work of René Shapshak.

BYEWAYS PLAQUE

 

16 Torwood Road, Forest Town

12 by Baker and Fleming for Robert Alfred Lehfeldt, Professor of Natural Philosophy and Physics at the South African School of Mines. Lehfeldt came to Johannesburg in 1906 to take up the appointment and remained at that institution as Professor of Economics, Economic History and Statistics when it became the University of the Witwatersrand.

THE CAPERS (formerly DAVAAR) PLAQUE

5 Wexford Avenue

Designed in 1918 for Mr and Mrs T.J. Welch by Cook and Ralston, architects of the original Pretoria Town Hall, this gracious home was acquired in 1924 by Bridget and Orlando Leake. A staunch Wesleyan and a Rand Pioneer, Mr Leake served as a councillor on the Johannesburg Council for twenty-seven years without remuneration, and as Mayor from 1925 to 1926. Orlando Township in Soweto was named after him in recognition of his concern for disadvantaged communities.

CIRCLE COURT PLAQUE

Corner of Clarendon & Twist Street, Hillbrow

Designed by the brothers Louis Theodore Obel andMark Obel in 1936, both architects who favoured Art Deco design, Circle Court is an impressive building, carefully adapted to its non-symmetrical site, once towering over the intersection from which its name derives. Clarendon Circle was a famous landmark – a large traffic circle surrounding an island of grass and palms – replaced by traffic lights in 1959. LT Obel
lived in the building and died here in 1956.

CHINESE CLUB PLAQUE

Commissioner Street

Transvaal Chinese United Club.
Established in 1909 by the small pioneering Chinese community, the club offered rooms for newcomers as well as social amenities in an old miners’ club. Funds were raised to uplift the local community. It continued financially successful, building in 1940 a block of flats on the adjoining stand which is one of the City’s architectural gems.

CHRIS VAN WYK PLAQUE

13 Flinder Street, Riverlea

The Storyteller of Riverlea

Born in Soweto in 1957, Chris spent most of his life in Riverlea, publishing his first volume of poetry at the age of 22. An editor for Staffrider and Ravan Press, his first love was writing, especially for children. His poemIn Detention” conjures up the evils of the racist security system under apartheid. His childhood memoir, Shirley Goodness & Mercy, bubbles with humour and love for his mother, family and friends. A brilliant raconteur and humanist, Chris died prematurely in 2014 aged 57.

CHRIST THE KING PLAQUE

Raystreet, Sophiastown

So little money was available for its construction in 1933 that Architect F.L.H. Fleming called it “a holy bam”. The bell tower was added in 1936 and has been a landmark ever since. In 1940 Father Trevor Huddleston, an outspoken opponent of apartheid, was appointed Rector, and the Church became an icon of the liberation struggle. In 1955, during the forced removals Huddleston was recalled to England. Once the congregation left the area, the Church was deconsecrated and sold. The site was reconsecrated as an Anglican Church in 1997. Bishop Huddleston’s ashes are interred here at his request.

CHURCH IN THE PINES PLAQUE

 Sandton

In the early 1900s the three daughters of Sytze Wierda (the Goverment engineer & architect of the Transvaal Republic) lived in this area and formed the core of residents who built this church on land donated by the Obermeyer family. Obermeyer, Wierda’s son-in-law, was responsible for the woodwork. “Oom Rooibaardt” Miller, who was an Adjutant with the “ZARP’s” during the Anglo-Boer War, did the brickwork & plastering. Thechurch opened in 1924and is the oldest building in Sandton in its original state. It is now the Sandton Union Church.

CRANBROOK PLAQUE

 

31 The Valley Road, Parktown

In 1911 Waterson and Veale designed this house for F.M. Barry, who sold it in 1916 to Dr F.S. Lister, a doctor seconded from the gold mines to the South African Institute for Medical Research. In 1918 he identified the pneumococcus responsible for the deaths of thousands of mine workers annually, and developed an effective vaccine against it. This breakthrough in health medicine was rewarded with a knighthood in 1920, and it was as Sir Frederick Spencer Lister that in 1926 he was appointed as Director of the Institute.

CULLINAN BUILDING PLAQUE

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The Cullinan Building was a superb building replaced on this site by another fine office block, the Standard Bank Centre. Built for Thomas Cullinan, founder of the Premier Diamond Mining Company, it was designed in 1904 by architects Leck and Emley. The Cullinan Building was part of an elegant streetscape with arcades and speciality shops. It was demolished in 1966, and its lintel was re-erected here in 2009.

DAVID WEBSTER MEMORIAL PLAQUE

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Anthropologist and Activist David Webster lived here from 1986 until his assassination three years later. Dr Webster played a leading role in the Detainees’ Parents Support Committee, the United Democratic Front and affiliated organisations. He co-founded the Five Freedoms Forum, formed as a a home for whites in the struggle for democracy. On 1 May 1989 he was gunned down outside this home by an agent of the apartheid regime.

DELTA PARK HERITAGE PRECINCT PLAQUE

Corner of Clarendon and Twist Street, Hillbrow

Built on Farmland at the outskirts of the city, the Delta Sewage Disposal Works operated from 1934 – 1963. Converted to a centre of environmental education under the direction of philanthropist Norman Bloom, the main building re-opened in 1978, and the surrounding grounds became a public park.. Together the old waterworks structures form a fine group of municpal Art Deco Buildings, which includes the spectacular cenral block, the main entrance and gate houses, staff houses and workers’ compound.Curabitur arcu erat, accumsan id imperdiet et, porttitor at sem. Nulla quis lorem ut libero malesuada feugiat. Nulla quis lorem ut libero malesuada feugiat. Quisque velit nisi, pretium ut lacinia in, elementum id enim. Praesent sapien massa, convallis a pellentesque nec, egestas non nisi. Donec rutrum congue leo eget malesuada.

DR A.B. XUMA HOUSE PLAQUE

This is one of only two houses to escape the destruction of Sophiatown by the apartheid government in the late 1950s. It was built in 1935 for Dr Alfred Bitini Xuma, a highly qualified medical practitioner, and named Empilweni. He lived here until 1959 together with his wife Madie Beatrice Hall, an African American social worker who served as President of the ANC Womens’ League from 1943 to 1949. Elected President General of the ANC in 1940, Dr Xuma introduced a new constitution which opened membership to people of all races and gave women equal rights in the organisation.

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