PERFECT LOCATIONS GALLERY
Despite the bustling metropolis and modern African city that is Johannesburg, the city and its historic homes have been used for many period films and television dramas. The Sammy Marks museum and Melrose House in Tshwane are very popular locations, as is The Windybrow Theatre in Johannesburg.

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But there are many other less obvious sites throughout Gauteng that offer potential film locations. The most intriguing of these is 'Lindfield' Victorian House Museum. A visit to this house is to step back in time as the interior and all its furnishings have been lovingly preserved. Each room is fully furnished and equipped just as it was when the house was first lived in (tel: +27 (0)11 726 2932).

Parktown and Westcliff in Johannesburg are the obvious places to find the very finest in historic homes that the Province has to offer. They are two of the oldest suburbs of Johannesburg and home to the mining magnates from 1892 till today. The concentration of power and money, combined with the exuberant and extravagant taste of these pioneers, is reflected in the homes they built on the prominent ridges which lie north of the city centre.

Historic homes include Glenshiel, home of Sir William and Lady Dalrymple, Pallinghurst (now Hope School) and the very charming home, The Stables, with its glorious gardens. Parktown was the first garden suburb to be added to the mining town of Johannesburg and Sir Herbert Baker designed many of the buildings, such as Stone House, Moot Cottage, St David's Place, Wanooka House, Dolobran, Outeniqua and Parktown Convent.

Many of these are private residences but there are some historic homes now either used by big business or the public sector that may be easier to access.

The View on St Andrews Road is a magnificent colonial building built in the Neo-Queen Anne style, owned and used by the Transvaal Scottish Regiment would probably allow filming but under severely controlled conditions. This 1896 red-brick building is in good condition and features double-storey balconies, a wood-panelled study and many beautiful fireplaces.

Jubilee Road has many grand houses that remind one of a bygone era of old Johannesburg of 100 years ago. Outeniqua, North Lodge Ravenscraig and Savernake are owned by Wits University. Gables End is currently being renovated. It was built in 1903 and the style is 'mock' Tudor with dark shingle roof and exterior walls with white walls and heavy black beams. Savernake at no 13 Jubilee Road was built in 1904. It is constructed in Arts and Crafts style with a blend of Art Nouveau features in the woodwork, brass fittings and leaded light galss windows. It is a double-storey house with a shingled roof. The corner turret rooms add a touch of fantasy. Another beautiful house built in the Art Nouveau style is at 19 Albermarle House in Troyeville. It was always assumed to be one of the many homes of Gandhi during his time in Johannesburg but in actual fact his Troyeville home was 11 Albermarle Street, a much plainer house.

Back to Jubilee Road, at No 9 stands an Edwardian home built in 1910. Today this well-preserved home is leased to the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism. The house has an attractive entrance porch edged with Italian faience tiles and a solid carved teak front door. There is a panelled entrance hall with a gracious staircase.

The Sunnyside built in 1994 is now The Sunnyside Hotel still retains its charm and elegance (visit www.legacyhotels.co.za for images), Eikenlaan now Mikes Kitchen retains its original stand size undeveloped so the relationship between house and garden can be visualized and experienced here, and Wynnstay currently used by the Johannesburg Youth Theatre are all striking Victorian landmarks in Parktown.

Three historic farmhouses from the late 19th century are still miraculously extant. To the east of the city centre in Dewetshof stands a 130-year-old farmhouse built in 1863, the Bezuidenhout farmhouse. It has thick white-washed walls and an iron roof, a bay window and front stoep. The house is in good condition and is currently owned by Johannesburg City Parks. The other, Emmarentia farmhouse, was built in 1887 with ceilings of almost five metres and Victorian fireplaces it would make an ideal location but this is probably not realisable as it is a private residence. The Marks Park clubhouse, also once a farmhouse, a stone's throw from Emmarentia farmhouse, is in good condition and features Victorian turrets and wrought iron railings.

The Windybrow, now the Windybrow Theatre, is an 1896 Randlord mansion with a conical roof, green and white timber facade and grand veranda. Although situated in lower Hillbrow it manages to retain most of its former elegance. The interior still has all its fireplaces, pressed steel ceilings and wooden floors. Features include a wood-panelled entrance hall and a domed ceiling in the drawing room.

Villa Arcadia, currently owned and occupied by Hollard Insurance is a magnificent reminder of the early 1900s when Johannesburg's wealthy Randlords moved to the ridge top north of the dusty mining town. There is a wonderful website www.villaarcadia.co.za that includes floor plans and photographs of all the rooms.

Historic homes are not just the exclusive terrain of the rich and there are some fascinating examples of more humble abodes in Johannesburg. The Workers' Museum in Newtown, situated in a restored municipal workers compound, commemorates the history of African migrant workers and offers a faithful reconstruction of living conditions in single-sex hostels. There is also a row of managers houses situated on Jeppe Street alongside the workers compound. Of special interest is a house in Pageview on 14th Street which survived the removals. It is a double storey Victorian with balcony painted vibrant blue and red. In Currey Street in Doornfontein there is a small house built between 1887 and 1897. The house has a verandah, green woodwork, whitewashed walls and an iron roof.

Tshwane boasts some fine historic homes that are older than its Johannesburg counterparts. Smuts House Museum is the restored family home of General Jan Christiaan Smuts, Boer general and prime minister of the Union of South Africa. The house displays Smuts's furniture and other memorabilia. It is situated on Doornnkloof Farm on Jan Smuts Avenue in Irene. Melrose House and the Sammy Marks Museum are both beautiful examples of Victorian architecture. The Sammy Marks Museum was the home of the wealthy entrepreneur and good friend of President Paul Kruger, Sammy Marks. His last will stated that nothing could be changed in his house for three generations after his death. His wish was fulfilled and today his home holds the distinction of being the only Victorian museum with an authentic interior.

The Paul Kruger House Museum, as its name suggest, was the home of Paul Kruger, the last president of the Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek (1884-1901). Many of Kruger's personal possessions, depicting his family's lifestyle, have been preserved.

There is a further spattering of historic homes through the province and the following are definitely worth further investigation:

  • In Sedibeng on the Meyerton/Vereeniging Road there is a lovely old Victorian mansion, De Rust, which dates back to 1906. The house has been renovated and is being converted into a museum.

  • The McHardy House Museum was the first house to be built in Cullinan, Metsweding. A visit to the house will show you how an affluent family lived during the early 1900s.

  • At No 34, 8th Avenue in Alberton, Ekhuruleni, is an Edwardian house built in 1904 with Oregon pine floors and ceilings and fireplaces. It is one of the rare surviving examples of this type of house in Alberton.

  • And in the West Rand there's Jonkers Hoek, once the home of the original owner of the farm Randfontein.