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.
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.
For a more detailed history of Cora Terrace, access my blog entitled 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Upper Hill Street
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.
Old English Architecture in Cape Road
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.
Books: Hills Covered with Cottages by Margaret Harradine
National monuments: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_heritage_sites_in_Port_Elizabeth
Newington Road: http://www.sahistory.org.za/places/windyridge-house-24-newington-road-port-elizabeth#sthash.AhE3TOhh.dpuf
The Port Elizabeth Daily Photo: https://portelizabethdailyphoto.blogspot.co.za/2007/12/by-special-request-49-havelock-street.html