Doornfontein Pt.3 (Eastington & The Turrets)

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It appears as though I’ve mistaken my mansions (or at least the reference books I’m using have) as I’ve always believed the house that once stood on the hill on Harrow Road across from where Ponte is now was known as THE TURRETS. It was in fact called EASTINGTON which was built from koppie stone in 1902 for John Dowell Ellis who was Johannesburg’s Major between 1911-1912. It was also known as ‘the castellated crag of Yeoville’ and had a magnificent view of Johannesburg and the mines to the south.  The Ellis’ held regular garden parties and receptions in the garden.  

View from Eastington

View from Eastington (Source: Mervyn King Ridge Trail)

The Turrets, built in 1896, was actually a short way down the hill in Louisa Street (corner of Harrow Road) that ran parallel to Saratoga and was at different times the home of Barney Barnato, George Albu & the Friedlanders (Mrs Friedlander, wife of the stockbroker J. F. Friedlander, built the house originally) before becoming a Jewish old age home. The home, established in 1912 after the Albu’s moved to Northwards in Parktown, was opened in 1918 and expanded in 1936 by the addition of a convalescent home and a double story woman’s wing in 1939. It was all demolished in the late 1960s and Louisa street now no longer exists as it now forms part of the old WITS Tech (now UJ). There would have been a bunch of houses demolished to make way for the tech as was done in Parktown in the 1970s for the teachers college and JHB hospital.

Eastington Harrow Road across from where Ponte now stands

Eastington on the hill on Harrow Road (Source: Magnates & Mansions)

The Turrets in Louisa Street

The Turrets in Louisa Street (Source: Magnates & Mansions)

Sam Jameson, brother of Dr. Jameson of Jameson Raid fame, had a cottage on the corner of Louisa and St. Augustine’s Street. It was later converted into the Arena Theatre, an experimental theatre run by PACT who later took over Windybrow and restored it. It too was demolished in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Check out my post on the history of theatres in early Johannesburg here.

Arene Theatre

Sam Jameson’s cottage that became the Arena Theatre (Source: Mervyn King Ridge Trail)

Eastington was demolished in the late 1960s and I don’t recall anything ever being built on the site since. One Sunday morning in April 2011, I attempted to find the ruins/foundations of Eastington and gained access to the site only to discover it had been leveled and replaced with a Pentecostal Church foundations – the building of which is still in a stalled as of 2018.

While updating this post I discovered some old pictures I had of Harrow Road being developed. This one looking south down Harrow shows the early stages from the late 1950s or early 1960s with what appears to be Eastington on the left across from the reservoir. Note the odd kink in the road which no longer exists and the number of houses in Doornfontein in the distance. One can pick out the Shul and the Alhambra Theatre as well as some of the houses that still stand between the flyover. It’s fascinating to see how things once were when you’ve only known what is there now. It’s insights like these that make doing this so worthwhile and rewarding.

View down Harrow Road late 1950s or early 1960s

View down Harrow Road late 1950s or early 1960s (Source: Museum Africa)

The next shows the completed Harrow Road flyover from around the late 1960s without Eastington. Ponte was also not yet built.

Harrow Road flyover from late 1960s

Harrow Road flyover from late 1960s (Source: Museum Africa)

A view of Eastington from Ponte hill across Harrow Road early 1900s

A view of Eastington from Ponte hill across Harrow Road early 1900s (Source: A Johannesburg album)

The colour pictures below are different views from the hill showing Ponte, UJ and the ‘coffin’ building and one with the tops of the Lion’s Shul in the distance.

Where Eastington once stood: Now foundations for an evangelical church still no closer to being completed

Where Eastington once stood: Now foundations for an evangelical church from 2011 (Source: Marc Latilla)

View of Ponte from the foundations 2011. The base of the first water reservoir in JHB is to the grassy right

View of Ponte from the foundations 2011. The base of the first water reservoir in JHB is to the grassy right from 2011 (Source: Marc Latilla)

View of Doornfontein and UJ (old Wits Tech) from the foundations

View of Doornfontein and UJ (old Wits Tech) from the foundations from 2011 (Source: Marc Latilla)

View of Doornfontein from the foundations with the Lion's Shul in the distance

View of Doornfontein from the foundations with the Lion’s Shul in the distance from 2011 (source: Marc Latilla)

In a previous post, I put up a picture of Warrington Hall which was a house just below Windybrow on Nugget Street. Across the road would have been Clyfton House at No. 1 Saratoga Avenue and for over 60 years, the home of Henry Nourse and his surviving family. The house would have been built in the early 1890s and by accounts, was the centre of Doornfontein society.

It was demolished in the late 1950s to make way for a modern Catholic Church. The church is the cross-shaped building in the picture below taken from a block of flats on top of Nugget Hill in 1988. I’ve not come across a picture of Clyfton House.

View from the top of Nugget Hill 1988 looking down to Saratoga Ave and End street

View from the top of Nugget Hill 1988 looking down to Saratoga Ave and End street (Source: Marc Latilla)

I found a sketch from 1982 of one of the few remaining houses I posted earlier. There is also a picture of Goldfields first office from 1887 which was in St. Augustine Street.

One of two period houses left on Saratoga Ave

One of two period houses left on Saratoga Avenue 2011 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Sketch of the above house by Hannes Meiring from 1982

Sketch of the above house from 1982 (Source: Early Johannesburg Hannes Meiring)

Goldfields first office on St. Augustine's Road

Goldfields first office in St. Augustine Street

Map showing the positions of the houses mentioned. Turrets on Louisa Street was on the opposite side of the block closer to the red star (position of the sketched house)

Map showing the positions of the houses mentioned. Turrets on Louisa Street was on the opposite side of the block closer to the red star (position of the sketched house)

Doornfontein map of historic site

Doornfontein map of various historic buildings (Source: O. Norwich)

Bibliography:

Barry, M & Law, N, 1985.  Magnates and Mansions-Johannesburg 1886-1914. Johannesburg: Lowry Publishers 

—. 1986. The Mervyn King Ridge Trail. Johannesburg: Johannesburg City Council

Norwich, O, undated. Historic description of Beit Street from End Street to Siemert Road in Doornfontein as a conservation area. Johannesburg Historical Foundation booklet 

Meiring, H, 1985. Early Johannesburg. Cape Town: Human & Rousseau

Updates:

Text, corrections and additional photos added 29 September 2018

This entry was published on June 17, 2011 at 10:13 pm. It’s filed under Johannesburg and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

9 thoughts on “Doornfontein Pt.3 (Eastington & The Turrets)

  1. Marc Latilla on said:

    Hi Rosemary,I think it’s picture 15 in the first Doornfontein post. To my knowledge Warrington Hall was just below Windybrow, I’ll check some books and add it to the final Doornfontein post shortly.There is so much already gone (some pamphlets I picked up today from 1975 were complaining then about how heritage houses & buildings were disappearing) but there is still so much out there to find.

  2. Hi.

    I was born in Doornfontien in 1961 in no 14a upper meyer street. I went to Doornfontein Primary. I would love to know if there are any photos or any information about the school I attended. I remember a brass plaque with King George mentioned on it that was next to a tree in the playground.
    The school closed so we had to attend I.H.Harris primary.

    Kind regards
    Freddie van Rooyen

    • Marc Latilla on said:

      Hi Freddy,
      Thanks for the note. I don’t recall seeing anything on Doornfontein Primary but I’ll keep an eye out. I come across stuff all the time and have a number of people who have contacted me via the blog looking for specific info. Do you have any pictures of Doornfontein from that time?

      • Hi Marc.

        I have one of my father and sister sitting infront of his Dodge that is parked in Upper Meyer st with Beit st in the background 1963/4 My mom took the photo with an old Brownie that she still has. How do I upload the photo.

  3. Re. Clyfdon Houe. Their is a picture of the drawing room, but not the house, in Magnates and Mansions Jhb 1886-1914 by Margaret Barry and NimmoLaw published 1984. ISBN 0 947042 02 4. Also pictures of many of the old houses. Gillian Nel

  4. Barry on said:

    As a small child, my folks stayed in the Hendon (Residential) Hotel on the NE corner of Abel and Harrow roads for a few months in the early 1950s. I remember going to the local grocer with my Dad and purchasing a quart of milk, a loaf of bread, the Sunday Times, the Sunday Express and a slab of chocolate. This was paid for with 2 shillings and there was change of more than sixpence. Nowadays we would not stoop down to pick up a 50c coin….

  5. Mervyn on said:

    My dad had a shop on the corner of Beit and Staib Street (Ellis Park Groceries) not far from Ellis Park. I remember walking up Beit street to the Standard Bank with my dad to make deposits and stop off at the kosher butchery and ice cream shop on the way. Also remember the chemist and paint shop on the corner of Harrow Road and Beit Street

    • Jean Mills on said:

      I remember Marlborough House, such a pity it is no more. My Mother used to shop at Paris House which was a lovely place full of wonderful things which were imported from England I remember her buying me a red plastic raincoat from there…this shop was on the corner of Marlborough House entrance on Beit street. The other corner facing the intersection of Siemert and Beit had a café where my Dad would buy us a toasted hamburger and a jug of milkshake on payday (he worked as a projectionist at the Apollo and Alhambra Theatres at the age of 18 ) and the three of us (Mom, Dad and me aged 2 or 3) would share this as a special treat! The Chemist over the road, Bondy’s Boutique where my Mom bought her dresses from, Chrystels Bakery and Deli, the Indian haberdashery shops which were on the ‘kink’ in Beit street, Oxford drycleaners which was up near Jewish Government School later to be called I.H.Harris (where I went) were just some of the wonderful memories I still carry around with me to this day. I was born over the road from Marlborough House in a little semi 126a Siemert Rd. The family later moved to the top of Harrow Rd to a lovely big old house which also has long gone and a Jewish Synagogue has replaced it. The Oxford Drycleaners was not as high up as I thought but further down after the Alhambra Bioscope according to my Mom. I could go on and on and on….but hey, somebody has to make lunch!

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