Dorp Street is the oldest street in Stellenbosch and part of the Old Wagon Road to Cape Town. I wandered up and down this street more than once, at different times of the day, and loved the simplicity of the buildings, the old oak trees, and the light and shadow – beautiful, and surprisingly peaceful considering this is a main road. The oak trees were planted between 1760 and 1812!
Libertas Parva dates from c.1783, built by Lambertus Fick. In 1819 Philip Jacob Haupt bought the farm, Libertas, and created the front gables. (The back façade has no gable.) The farm was also home to the Krige family from 1869, whose daughter Issie married Jan Christian Smuts in one of the front rooms in 1897. At the time Smuts was a student at the University, lodging in Ackermann House across the road. Today the building apparently houses a remarkable art collection – how did I miss it?! (Black & white photographs by Andre Pretorius here.)
The Kriges apparently built the cottages which adjoin the farmhouse.
Jan Christian Smuts was a quite extraordinary man with a brilliant mind and a strong will. He graduated in South Africa from the University of the Cape with a double first in science and literature, won a scholarship to Cambridge, and graduated with a double first in law. Rather than pursue what would have been a spectacular career in the UK, he returned to South Africa and entered politics. He was instrumental in gaining the Union for South Africa, drafted the charter for the League of Nations and was the only person to also sign the United Nations Charter. He was a published author, Prime Minister of South Africa, Chancellor of Cambridge University, and President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, amongst other achievements.
Ackermann House was built in 1815 by Christiaan Neethling and stands at 48 and 50 Dorp Street. Grosvenor House was also built by a ‘Christiaan Neethling’ and I think it was the same man.
I am going to continue down/up the street in further posts!
You may be interested in
Historic sites in Stellenbosch & here
The history of Stellenbosch
Jan Christian Smuts & here – a remarkable man
Libertas Parva – history
Beautiful photographs by Andre Pretorius
Great oaks and faulois buildings!