The Franklin Nature Reserve on Naval Hill is within the boundaries of the town and was created in 1930, named after Sir John Stuart Franklin, the Mayor of Bloemfontein in the 1920s. The Reserve covers 250 hectares and holds a pair of giraffe, zebra, and birds. Apparently there are also wildebeest in the Reserve. We drove around as walking is not recommended.
The Lamont-Hussey Observatory in the Reserve was built by the University of Michigan in 1928 to escape the light-pollution at Ann Arbor. The observatory ceased to operate in 1971, and the building is now a planetarium. Two other American Universities have built observatories in South Africa: Yale located a telescope at Johannesburg, and Harvard built the Boyden Observatory outside Bloemfontein.
Naval Hill gained its name after the Anglo-Boer War. After defeating the Boers at the Battle of Paardeberg the British captured Bloemfontein and placed guns on the top of the hill to defend the town. I think these buildings may have been part of the defences.
What we did not see is the white horse on the east side of the hill. It was apparently created by the Second Battalion of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Wiltshire Regiment as a marker during the Anglo-Boer War. (This marvellous site has ‘photographs’ of the War – do visit.)
You may be interested in
The Lamont-Hussey Planetarium
The Franklin Nature Reserve, Nice blog on the Reserve, with a photograph of the White Horse
A visit to Naval Hill
Mann, Arthur M: The Boer in War & Peace, 1900
Wilson, H W: With the Flag to Pretoria, 1900
Project Gutenberg for other books on the Anglo-Boer War
The Battle of Paardeberg
Great wildlife and an interesting history!