This 3rd part of the Old Buildings Series was quite nostalgic for me. I returned to the neighbourhood of my youth. In Woodstock, when I was growing up there was the Lord Milner Hotel, where a school friend and his family were residing. Then there was the house that my father grew up in. These two buildings are landmarks of Old Cape Town and together they are steeped in history.
First though the Lord Milner Hotel. The hotel itself does not exist anymore. It is now the premises of the King James Ad Agency – incidentally this Ad Agency was awarded the ADREVIEW AGENCY OF THE YEAR 2011.
The building has been renovated, in fact is still in the process of renovation. One can still however get the feel of the old building by looking at the style of architecture. Instead of the brick paved parking area – the old hotel had lawns and trees and park benches. It was always a peaceful place to be. After school, some days, I would walk my friend home and we would sit under the trees and eat our sandwiches before I walked up the steep road homeward.
The building dates back to 1850 and has Cape “Georgian” features and became the Lord Milner Hotel in 1903.
Next, the Ruth Prowse School of Art. This was the old Roodebloem House, and it was on this property that my father lived as a young boy. He lived in the portion of the structure to the immediate left of the main building.
He tells of the times he and his brother would climb up onto the flat roof of their dwelling and fly model aeroplanes.
In 1661 the Dutch East India Company granted 16 morgen of land to one Hendrik Lacus. The name of the estate was de Roodebloem which was derived from the red flower of the Watsonia plant growing on Table Mountain. The property changed owners many time before it became the property of the Laubscher family. The Ruth Prowse School of Art was established by Erik Laubscher – a descendant of the earlier Laubscher family.
Ruth Prowse occupied the thatch cottage also called “The Retreat”.
This building has also been lovingly restored by the school’s benefactors, Brendalyn and Ernest Stempel, and the renowned architect John Rennie.
Thanks go to Eunice Geustyn, the executive head of the Ruth Prowse School of Art, for sharing a fact sheet about the school.
Further information about Roodebloem House was obtained from an October 1985 issue of LANTERN.
Also, thank you to Cameron Benjamin of King James Ad Agency for the information he gave me.