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The plans for this building date back to 24 August 1898 and it was evidently built before the Anglo-Boer War by J.R. Koller. A good description is ‘…more leisurely pace with its Victorian air, which is suburban rather than city centred.’
Although mostly Victorian with a highly decorated roofline, there are also elements of Classicist ornamentation reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance.
As the name implies, the building was a chemist for well over 70 years. Its first owner was a Mr Sanderson (not to be confused Anderson of Salisbury House). The rooms above like housed single men working at the mines.
About the spelling…some books have the ‘e’ and some don’t. The current sign on the building if you zoom in on the Picture below has it with the ‘e’. Some use the more common spelling ‘Osbourne’
The following two views looking west down Marshall Street were taken a few years apart. All these buildings were built between 1894 and the early 1900s, and those that survive today make up the oldest cluster of early retail stores and buildings in Johannesburg. The first and earlier of the two shows an open stand on the left. The balconied building across the road looks like a typical period hotel or boarding establishment with shops on street level. On the right is the Osborne building with the Imperial Photographic Studio signage.
The second later postcard (early 1990s) has new shops where the open stand was. Signage reads ‘Richardson Cater’ and ‘Holbrook & Pottage’. The hotel/boarding house is still there and it appears to have signage under the balcony that reads ‘Lamb & Harper’.
On the right is the Osborn building again. Across Maddison Street is what looks like the main Lamb & Harper Outfitters double-storey building. This is followed by the single-storey and gabled Bank Building, ending with a shop at the corner of Marshall and Macintyre that has been home to various shoe retailers over the years including Cuthberts and Spitz. Note the Chicken’s News Agency store between Cuthberts and the Bank Building. This news agency was founded in 1893 and was taken over by CNA in 1928 along with two other respected book stores.
The row of buildings from the old Lamb & Harper down to the corner store is now part of Jozi Malls. The buildings were bought by Mohamed Dajee in 1995 who created the mall. The 2nd floor of the old Harper & Lamb building has been a Mosque since 2005.
This view down Maddison Street looking south is taken from the corner where the vacant stand meets Marshall Street in the earlier c1890s photo.
The corner building gives no clue as to its function without the Lamb & Harper signage from the previous postcard.
Next door is the first suburban branch of C. H. Thrupp & Co. that opened in the late 1890s. The book ‘Johannesburg 70 Golden Years’ states the branch opened in 1903 although the land was purchased in 1895. I’ve since uncovered the plans and building application documents from 1895 which state the building was designed by Carter & McIntosh. JHF has the building listed as being built in 1900 with the architect being I. Ibertson. It was probably completed in 1896 and is another addition to the list of Johannesburg’s oldest buildings. The building had offices and bedrooms at the back of the shop, as well as stables and servants quarters at the back of the stand. Up until 2018, the building was used as a funeral home known as WINGS.
Another clue that the building was in use before 1903 is the following photo showing English troops entering Johannesburg on 31 May 1900. The shop, like many in Johannesburg during the war, is boarded up to prevent damage and theft. Based on this, there is a good chance it was trading before the outbreak of the war in 1899.
The first Johannesburg Thrupps branch was opened on the corner of Eloff and President Streets in 1894 and then at 71 Pritchard Street in 1902. The Rosebank branch (re-built from the purchase of J. H. Wherrie’s grocery business) was opened in 1951 which then moved to Illovo in the 1990s where it is still going strong.
Travelling south along Maddison Street would take one directly to the Meyer & Charlton mine. After crossing Hanau Street at the slight kink in the road, one would find oneself in North Doornfontein which is not technically north of Doornfontein, but is about as south of Doornfontein one could get with Jeppestown in-between. This oddity has prevailed in modern maps much like Parktown North (separated from Parktown proper by a few suburbs), and Kensington B (nowhere near Kensington, but in Randburg). Legend has it that they were named after established suburbs to help with property sales. Many new families rented or purchased their homes before relocating to Johannesburg and would often be misled by the suburb name.
Just after the kink halfway down the block once stood the Ohlsson’s Brewery owned Charlton Hotel which was built in 1903 and designed by E. C. Choinier with additions in 1906 by W. Paynter. It was a typical hotel, situated near the mines or railways, that catered for the growing workforce. Such was the demand for accommodation, that a second floor and a beer hall was added in the first three years.
Anyone who has driven around this part of town has no doubt come across the landmark that is the Cosmopolitan Hotel.
Designed by brothers Arthur and Walter Reid in 1899, the hotel was probably only built in 1902 due to the onset of the Anglo-Boer war. The design is late Victorian although it was built in the early Edwardian era. In its day it would have towered above the low line surrounding shops. Not far away, the Rand Tram ran diagonally across the township.
The following was written about the hotel by Daphne Saul in 1983 (taken from the Heritage Portal):
“The hotel was opened in 1899. It was first owned by a Mr Schlom and was known as Schlom’s Hotel. Then it was taken over by a Mr Lipson and subsequently by a Mr Cohen. In 1914 it was bought by South African Breweries. Miners from the Wolhuter Mine in the vicinity were regular customers.
The hotel boasts an elaborate neo-baroque facade in the style known as ‘beaux-arts’. It is the only surviving building designed by the well-known firm of architects at the time, the brothers Arthur and Walter Reid. It has floral mouldings, pilasters, pediments above each upper window and, to top it all, a leaden dome with bullnose gutter.
The bar of the hotel has a most interesting feature. This is a row of supports of carved wooden lions in the classic heraldic style. No one seems to know who thought of this embellishment, who carved the lions or who paid for them. Buffalo and buck heads are mounted on the walls and recall the time when it was used by the Masonic Club known as the Old Buffaloes.
In former times the hotel was called the Jeppe Rand Club by its patrons. The building was erected in a period of financial optimism which probably accounts for its opulent appearance and this notwithstanding the fact that the Anglo-Boer war was imminent at the time”
It appears Mr Schlom also had a house designed around the same time by the same architects in Albrecht Street between Commissioner and Market Street at stand no.3.
When this piece was originally written in 2013, the building is in a state of disrepair and the entrance doors and windows were bricked up. It has since been renovated. Check out 2Summers.net blog with some great then and now pictures here.
Jeppestown Synagogue 1926
The synagogue was built in 1926. The central facade with huge arch window flanked by pillars topped with small domes is based on a tradition that goes back as far as the Temple of King Solomon. It combined Byzantine-style domes and buttresses, classical columns, and a typical Lithuanian pitched roof. A stained-glass Magen David window is set slightly askew. “Urban legend has it that it was installed by someone still drunk from Purim,” said Dhyan.
The synagogue was designed by Saul Margo who was also responsible for several other synagogues in JHB (Talmud Torah and Chassidic in Doornfontein and Turffontein Synagogue). His most recognisable building today is probably Westminster Mansions in Yeoville behind the reservoir with its magnificent views of the city.
Foundation stone laid 3 March 1926 and the synagogue opened 14 august 1927 by Chief Rabbi Landau. The Lubner family was among its congregants – a small plaque indicating the seat of “Mrs B. Lubner” is still visible in the women’s section upstairs.
It appears as though there was also a Hebrew school on the site in a converted house dating back to 1895. The house was converted into a Talmud Torah by Saul Margo and opened in 1929.
The oldest bimah (BEE-ma) (raised platform in the synagogue from which the is read and services led) in Johannesburg now stands in the church’s sound booth. According to research on Jewish Johannesburg by Rose Norwich, it was imported from Kassel, Germany, in 1888. It first stood in the President Street Shul, which was disbanded because of conflict between the Litvaks and the Yekkes. The bimah then moved from the first to the second Jeppestown Shul.
By the 1930s, Jeppe was becoming more industrialised. Town planning failures meant new light industry was swallowing up residential housing and mixing with existing shopping areas. The community started moving eastwards resulting in new synagogues in Malvern and later Kensington.
Like the Great Synagogue in Wolmarans Street, it was sold to become a church for another denomination once the community had moved away. The Jeppestown Shul was bought by the Assembly of G-d Pentecostal Church Ministry of Ebenezer in South Africa, made up mainly of Portuguese-speaking Angolan and Mozambican immigrants. The building evidently closed in 1999 and was donated to the School of Practical Philosophy to turn into a centre fro community enrichment. Vagrants had destroyed much of the hall but some work was done to clean and fix it up before it was sold by former Johannesburg Mayor David Neppe for a R200 000 in 2002. Neppe died mysteriously in a hotel in Bruma a week later in what was an apparent suicide.
School of Practical Philosophy is the same organisation who later restored Salisbury House
Prior to this, the first synagogue in Jeppe was in Marshall Street. It was known as the Lithuanian Shul and built in 1903 from a design by George (Snowball) Laidler. It was in use until 1926 when it moved to the new and bigger synagogue above. The original structure still exists and was cut in half by the expansion of the railway lines in 1937. The leftover building is now part of a marble factory. See the previous post for more.
Jooste & Bryant’s Building
Designed by Waterson & Veale, this building was completed on 3 June 1906. It’s a typical example of Victorian excesses tempered by a simpler Edwardian style. The cast-iron balcony, roof signage, and corner tower are all Victorian whereas the stark lines of the facade and lack of decorative gables and dormer windows are all Edwardian traits.
Designed by Waterson & Veale, this building was completed on 3 June 1906. It’s a typical example of Victorian excesses tempered by simpler Edwardian style. The cast iron balcony, roof signage and corner tower are all Victorian whereas the stark lines of the facade and lack of decorative gables and dormer windows are all Edwardian traits and the last example of this kind of building with roof cast-iron roof signage in JHB,
The building originally housed one of the few successful Afrikaaner businesses in Johannesburg. Jooste & Bryant were importers and distributors of wine, brandy and other luxury goods. The business was established in 1889 with it’s first Pirates Bottle Store opened on the corner of Eloff and Commissioner Street (same block as His Majesty’s Theatre). By 1895 there were Pirate Bottle Stores in Market Street, West Street, Fordsburg (J&B branded – not Pirates. Damaged in 1922 riots), Clifton (Braamfontein) and Bree Street East. The Jeppe building housed a store at street level with administrative offices above after it opened in 1906.
In the early 1920s, Jooste & Bryant acquired the ‘House of Sedgwick’ who they were licensed to distribute in Johannesburg in the early days. They were a principal wine merchant in the Cape. By 1937 Sedgwick/J&B held 22% of the wholesale trade.
House of Sedgwick is known for the brand Old Brown Sherry, which is listed as one of many names under Distell’s brands. The original distillery (now restored) in the cape is now home to Bains and Three Ships whiskey.
It wouldn’t be a great leap if you’re thinking the initials J&B are connected to the whiskey J&B. If you were thinking this was so you would be….wrong. That’s Justerini & Brooks.
Like Salisbury House, it looks like it also suffered balcony damage in 2014 which was repaired.
Jeppe also had two bioscopes. The first was known as Jeppe Bioscope and was behind the old station in Mcintire Street. The building still stands.
According to the JHF archive, the stand originally had stables built on it in 1902. In 1907 is was a moulding shed for a foundry. The first bioscope hall was built in 1910 for A. G. Edwards. In 1918 alterations were done for African Theatre by Percy Rodger Cooke of Coloseum fame. The bioscope/theatre must have become part of the Schlesinger’s organisation (as many did to remain profitable) A projection room was added in 1940.
By 1958, it’s days as an entertainment venue was over and it became a car showroom. Much like the Northgate Dome today!
The second has its entrance in Marshall Street across fro Osbourne Pharmacy with the bioscope building running in the middle of the block ending near St Mary the less. It was first known as the Alexandra Bioscope. Alterations to the theatre were done in 1911 by Bertram Avery. In 1922 it became a supermarket known as SPQR (Small Profits Quick Returns). Around 1929 to 1942 it was known as Maxims Tearoom Bioscope. In the 1970s, it was a furniture store. Today the block is mostly bricked up.
SPQR is not to be confused with the Dutch supermarket chain DESPAR or SPAR as we know it today which started in 1930s and only came to SA in 1963.
Tram Terminus Building
Not actually in Jeppestown at all, this building from 1911 had appeared in two books as being in Marshall Street. I came across a different location on another site but that address was also incorrect (Cnr Jules and 17th street). After a little investigation, I eventually found it further up Jules street. It was where the tram line ended on that route.
Stark, F, 1956. Seventy Golden Years. Johannesburg: City Council of Johannesburg & Johannesburg Publicity Association
Norwich, O. I, 1986. A Johannesburg album-Historical postcards. Johannesburg: AD. Donker
The Star. 1970. ‘Jeppe was the Rosebank of today’ by Denis Godfrey
Bawcombe, P, 1973. Johannesburg. Johannesburg: Village Publishing
Added Marshall Street views, Thrupps and theatres/bioscopes May 2019
Added JHF slides and updated info on 2nd Jeppe synagogue, J&B, Osborne Pharmacy and bioscopes Nov 2021
love all the old 19th century building s so historic magnificent to think they have stood the test of time
Thank you for your amazing insights. Where could I get contact details, our company is looking to possibly rent/ repair the Cosmopolitan Hotel?
Try Propertuity 0861 333 444. If they don’t own or manage the Cosmopolitan, I’m sure they can point you in the right direction
So wonderful that the Cosmopolitan has been given a new lease of life in such a wonderful and totally appropriate way. I plan to go there soon. The Saturday Star of today (13 August 2016) has an article on the chaps who have been involved in the revival of it.
It’s great news! I read the article today. It was only a matter of time before it would eventually become part of Maboneng
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ive lived in this areas for as far as i know and great improvement has happend over the years
Thanks Faith! It certainly has