Historic Oranjezicht barn being restored

MATTHEW HIRSCH

The historic barn in Oranjezicht’s Homestead Park is set to get a R1.5 million facelift.

Johan van der Merwe, the City’s mayco member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, confirmed that funding had been made available for repairs to the building, which should take about six weeks to complete.

“The barn is the only remaining building remant of the original Oranjezicht farm homestead and outbuildings, which were constructed by the Van Breda family between 1769 and 1777. It was originally part of a larger farm structure adjacent to the main homestead. Other surviving historic elements include the surrounding erf walls, a fruit weighing scale and a bell tower to the north of the barn,” he said.

“The entire site is considered to be of Grade II significance and the portion on which the barn is located has been declared a Provincial Heritage Site (it had formerly been a National Monument under previous legislation). The site is seen to have historical, architectural, urban/visual, social and archaeological value.”

A Conceptual Development Framework has been prepared for the site as part of the Conservative Management Plan (CMP). This provides a holistic long-term vision for the gradual upgrade and improved use of the precinct.

The City said they are undertaking phased maintenance work in line with this framework.

During 2015, repairs were done to the historic Stadsfontein vault and the repair work to be done on the barn is the next project taking place as part of the ongoing project.

Mr Van der Merwe said an overall plan for the site had been done in 2014, which ensured the landmark would be maintained.

A heritage architect was appointed to determine the required scope of restoration work to the barn and to monitor the work on site. Indawo Cape (Pty) Ltd are presently contracted to the City of Cape Town for the maintenance of various City buildings and the Homestead Barn repairs are being done through this appointment.

“The current work is aimed at repairing structural damage to the walls and addressing maintenance requirements such limewashing, basic repairs, treatment of timber elements as well as the replacement of the existing asbestos roof with appropriate slate tile,” he said.

Sheryl Ozinsky, of the Oranjezicht City Farm, said the site was of great heritage importance. The City Farm is one of the groups that use the site along with the City Bowl Ratepayers’ Association as well as the Scouts.

“We are very happy that the City has committed resources to restoring the barn. It’s an important building and a small part of the original farm, Oranjezicht, that was owned by the Van Breda family for 170 years. The workers have removed some of the plaster off the walls and it’s incredible to see how the barn was constructed using small bricks, stones and lime.

“The barn formed part of the outbuildings of the historic Oranjezicht homestead which was unfortunately demolished in 1955 to make way for a bowling green, now the Oranjezicht City Farm. Together with the bell tower, a single gate-post and some low walls, the barn building is a physical reminder of the garden estate which was the largest farm in Table Valley, owned until 1901 by seven generations of the Van Breda family.

“The farm outbuildings used for storage, wine-making and other purposes would have extended to the east of the barn, and the slave quarters, which were demolished in the early 1900s, extended to the north where Upper Orange Street is today.”

City Bowl ward councillor Dave Bryant, said the facility was one of the projects that the City of Cape Town was particularly proud of.

He said in the past six years they had invested a R1 million into the park.

Now, along with the barn, this has become a central meeting point for members of the community.

“Through projects and ward allocation funds the park has turned from a derelict space to a well-used public facility,” he said.