June outing: The Old Granary

June 30, 2018 @ 9:45 am – 2:30 pm
The Old Granary
Buitenkant Street
Cape Town

Our outing this month is to the restored Granary in Buitenkant Street, We visited the building in its dilapidated and ruinous state almost exactly four years ago on the 28th June 2014!

Directions: Meet at the entrance to the Granary in Buitenkant Street (We might enter from the side entrance).

The Granary has since then undergone a transformation as it has been repaired and restored for occupation by the Tutu Foundation. The architectural work was undertaken by GAPP Architects under the aegis of Kobus van Wyk with close involvement of Margot van Heerden of the City of Cape Town. They will both be there on our visit and will be showing us the work that has been done to the building.

In view of the parlous previous state of the building this promises to be a fascinating visit!

Visiting the Granary in 2014

“The beautiful building on Buitenkant Street, known simply as the Granary, or the Old Customs House, is well over 200 years old and part of the city’s heritage.

Reputedly designed by the French-born South African architect and engineer, Louis Michel Thibault – who worked on a number of the city’s more elaborate buildings – it was constructed between 1808 and 1813 by Jacobus Hendricks for use as a house and bakery.

The beautiful, neo-classical building was then bought by the British for use as a customs house. Shortly afterwards it became a granary, and then a magistrate’s court. But it has also served as a post office, the Caledon Police Court, a women’s prison, the Civil Engineer’s office and the city’s first (informal) astronomical observatory.

The sculpture work – the British coat of arms and the figures of Neptune and Britannia on the building’s corners – were the work of sculptor Anton Anreith.

Over the years the house has fallen into disrepair, and has failed to find an organisation to raise the necessary funds to restore and repair its steady decay. Instead it has stood empty for 20 years.

In late 2015 Desmond Tutu came to the rescue, offering to contribute R12 million towards the Granary’s refurbishment. He also agreed to take on the lease of the building as a home for the Tutu Foundation Centre. The City, in turn, contributed a further R30m towards restoration, which began in late 2016.


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