The Cape Town office of the Presidency of South Africa is called De Tuynhuys ( Garden House) and is located in Government Avenue between the South African National  Parliament Buildings and the President's Council, adjacent to Company's Garden. De Tuynhuys is also close to the South African National Gallery and Iziko South African Museum and has been declared a Provincial Heritage Site.

The role of slaves in the building of De Tuynhuys

Historian Robert C.H. Shell has speculated that it is very probable that the slave called Rangton van Bali made the door for De Tuynhuys. Rangton went on to buy himself out of slavery. Much of the building is said to have been built by slaves. It is recorded that men from Ireland and England were apprentices to slaves to learn a trade. Slaves from South East Asian descent were and still are skilled in:

  • Saddlery, Masonry, Plastering
  • Wood-work, Carpentry work, Cabinet making

Architecture

The Architect who drew up the plans and was responsible for the overall design was a French man called Louis Michel Thibault who lived between 1750 and 1815.

The design of the building incorporates Louis XVI, Neo-classicism and Baroque elements influenced by The Dutch East Indies architecture that is seen in Amsterdam and Indonesia.

Sculptors

Jacobus Leeuwenberg, a Dutchman, and Anton Anreith, a German, were responsible for the outside facade's sculptures of the infant Mercury and Poseidon with the Dutch East India Company emblem holding their flag.

Re-construction of De Tuynhuys

1806 saw the remodelling of the house by the plastering over of the decorative façade and other features of the Dutch period and turning the house into a Georgian styled building. A ballroom, staircase and fireplaces were added on by the Governor Charles Somerset. When the re construction took place in 1968 many features were uncovered intact but the Greco Roman sculptures had to be recreated. Some of the best features of later additions were retained and incorporated into the design.

History

1674 : Started off as a tool-shed

1682 : Converted to a guest house for foreign visitors of the Governor Simon van der Stel

1790 : Governor’s summer residence in the Company’s Garden

1806 : after the second British occupation it was called the Governors House

1947 : The Royal family were accommodated in Tuynhus on their visit to South Africa

1968 : The Architect Gabriel Fagan completely restored the building to its former glory with the use of a drawing by Josephus Jones and one by Michel Thibault.

1972 : Re-naming to De Tuynhuys

Hours

The house is not open to the public but is clearly visible to visitors of the Company's Garden.

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