Interesting Old Buildings in Central Port Elizabeth

Forget about the standard fare: the Campanile, the City Hall or the Main library. Every brochure on Port Elizabeth will showcase them. All are iconic. In fact all of them have come to symbolise Port Elizabeth. Instead there are lesser known buildings and structures which are also worthy of inclusion in the pantheon of iconic, unusual or interesting buildings. The Central Area of Port Elizabeth certainly possesses an old world charm unique to South Africa partially due to these buildings. This blog will highlight a selection of them.

Main picture: Restoration in progress in Central Port Elizabeth 

Do not prejudge me because I do not include in this pantheon, a number of churches even though many of these religious buildings set the tone of the area especially the Hill Presbyterian Church. They will be chronicled in a future blog.

Detailed Map of PE Central

 Cora Terrace Houses

These houses were built between 1831 & 1834 by Henry Henderson who, with his father-in-law, Thomas Mahoney was murdered at the clay pits near the Kap River in 1834 during one of the intermittent Frontier Wars with the Xhosas.  These houses were named after his daughter, Cora Henderson. 

Number 13 Cora Terrace

Number 13 Cora Terrace

For a more detailed history of Cora Terrace, access my blog entitled  Port Elizabeth of Yore – Cora Terrace.

Port Elizabeth of Yore – Cora Terrace


This building does not date back to the period of the 1820 Settlers. Nonetheless it must be one of the most unusual buildings due to its shape. As such, Pineview can be rated as one of the iconic buildings in Port Elizabeth Central, being located between Alfred Terrace and Ivy Terrace.

Pineview, which is situated between Donkin Street and Ivy Terrace

Pineview, which is situated between Donkin Street and Ivy Terrace

Mr Jonker Fourie provided the explanation of its origin in his delightful blog called The Port Elizabeth Daily Photo from a Mrs Elizabeth Wilson Botha.
This block of four flats (two at street level & two upstairs) called Pineview is situated on the corner of Ivy Street & Alfred Terrace. It was built in 1928. Our family owned it for 39 years from 1968 to 2007. My late parents occupied the top corner flat. The bay window is the bedroom area, fitted out with dressing table & built-in cupboard along the back wall with the bed situated behind the dividing wall separating the bedroom & lounge. The passage, kitchen & bathroom are at the front door. Incidentally, my Dad made the two Edinburgh lamps at the point & entrance to the flats. My folks were from Edinburgh, Scotland! Unfortunately no mention of architectural style is mentioned in the plans which we still have!



I wonder why the building was called Pineview as I doubt that there were ever any pine trees in the vicinity.Alfred Terrace in 1922

Alfred Terrace

These buildings are further up the hill from the Hill Presbyterian Church. They were built for a Mr John Campbell with the first pair built circa 1863 and the second pair circa 1866. No additional information could be traced about them.  I surmise that the reason for this is partially that none of the houses are National Monuments.

Looking down Alfred Terrace towards the iconic Hill Presbyterian Church

Looking down Alfred Terrace towards the iconic Hill Presbyterian Church

Once during the late 1970’s I was parked where the top car is now parked. On returning from work at Price Waterhouse in the SA Perm Building, I discovered that my car radio had been stolen from my Vauxhill Viva.

Looking south from the Hill Presbyterian Church along Alfred Terrace Street

Looking south from the Hill Presbyterian Church along Alfred Terrace

Alfred Terrace in the late 1800's

I am naturally curious why this street was called Alfred. Was it due to the fact that Queen Victoria’s son was called Alfred or is that just a co-incidental?

Alfred Terrace in 1915

Donkin Row

Unofficially this series of houses bear the sobriquet of Donkin Row. As these houses face the northern- side of the Donkin Reserve, they are almost as well known to all tourists as the monuments on the Donkin Reserve itself. They stand in a terraced row on a steep hill, each one slightly lower than the one above it.

Donkin Row in 1960

Donkin Row in 1960

These houses constitute a typical Victorian-style terrace, especially remarkable for the manner in which these houses were built. These houses face the northern- side of the Donkin Reserve. They stand in a terraced row on a steep hill, each one slightly lower than the one above it. These houses constitute a typical Victorian-style terrace, especially remarkable for the manner in which they are built. These houses are an outstanding example of Victorian architecture and contribute to the traditional aspect of that part of the city

A recent picture of Donkin Row

A recent picture of Donkin Row

My only complaint is that despite being National Monuments, some of them have not been restored faithfully to their original design. This grievance is a general one in that many of Port Elizabeth’s iconic buildings the restoration has in fact destroyed much of their architectural value.

Donkin Row-Recently#02

Donkin Row visible on the extreme right

Donkin Row visible on the extreme right

Panoramic View from Donkin late 1890's

Panoramic View from Donkin late 1890’s

Newington Road

These nine houses form part of a unique terrace consisting of a row of identical late-Victorian double-storeyed semi-detached houses which were erected at the turn of the twentieth century and have since remained unaltered. This is one of the best examples of Victorian architecture in Port Elizabeth, and is typical of its town houses built during the 1880’s.

Newington Road in 1919

44 Newington Road Port Elizabeth#02 44 Newington Road Port Elizabeth#04 44 Newington Road Port Elizabeth



49 Havelock Street

This house is one of the few remaining wood and iron houses in Port Elizabeth. This house has an interesting bullnose verandah roof with detailed wooden balustrading and a pleasant front garden with large trees behind a picket fence. Architecturally, its style can be classified as Victorian cottage. Originally it was used as a house but its current used for commercial purposes.

49 Havelock Street

49 Havelock Street

Number 49 Havelock Street#02


Upper Hill Street

Upper Hill Street Recent#02

Looking down Upper Hill Street in Central one can see a couple of old historic settler houses dating from the mid 1800’s on the left and some of the high rise (high rise in PE terms) buildings in the city centre. Upper Hill Street 1902

Old English Architecture in Cape Road

English Architecture Cape Road#2

English Architecture Cape Road

English Architecture


Belvedere Cottages

Belvedere Cottages

Belvedere Cottages

Having a heart and a passion for our heritage can achieve can achieve so much more than a tick-box approach to conservation. Embrace it and our grandchildren will not be presented with a saccharine version of the past, but rather the genuine original article.

I will openly confess that as a child growing up in Port Elizabeth, I never appreciated its abundant and rich heritage. Only now do I, long after I no longer reside there, come to the realisation that Port Elizabeth’s heritage must be cherished.

Havelock Square

Havelock Square#03


Books: Hills Covered with Cottages by Margaret Harradine


National monuments:

Newington Road:

The Port Elizabeth Daily Photo:

Related blogs:

The Shameful Destruction of Port Elizabeth’s German Club in 1915

Port Elizabeth of Yore – Cora Terrace

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Grand Hotel


Port Elizabeth of Yore: Whaling in Algoa Bay


Port Elizabeth of Yore: White’s Road

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Slipway in Humewood

Port Elizabeth of Yore: King’s Beach

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Russell Road

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Horse Memorial

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Target Kloof

The Parsonage House at Number 7 Castle Hill Port Elizabeth

What happened to the Shark River in Port Elizabeth?

A Sunday Drive to Schoenmakerskop in 1922

The Three Eras of the Historic Port Elizabeth Harbour

The Historical Port Elizabeth Railway Station

The Great Flood in Port Elizabeth on 1st September 1968

The Friendly City – Port Elizabeth – My Home Town




    • Hi Brenda, That is super. At least somebody appreciates all the work that I put into these blogs


  1. Rich memories here. I lived in Russell Road in the 1950’s and 60’s, close to the busy intersection with Main Road in the city center.
    It’s great to see the care taken with this material, not your everyday casualobserver :) Thank you.

  2. Would you please be so kind as to contact me on 041 364 1081, as I need to contact Mrs Elizabeth Wilson Botha. I am currently selling the Pineview block and would like to know if we could please get a copy of the plans, as the municipality does not.
    Kind regards,
    Mercia Westraadt Jawitz Properties

  3. I am really enjoying your blog about Port Elizabeth’s history. I live and own a house in St Philip street Richmond Hill behind the Erica girls college and find your articles of PE very interesting especially central and the areas around me.

  4. I came across your blog while trying to locate an old work mate from the 1970’s.
    I was 12 years old when we had the 1968 floods,I remember it well,as I was on crutches at the time,having broken myleg at soccer practice..used to play for Walmer Celtic back then.
    Brings back a lot of pleasant memories,thanks for effort.
    Les Pretorius


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