Well on its way to a double century, this beautiful Karoo Guest House is the oldest surviving building in Prince Albert. Built in 1835 on part of the fertile Kweekvallei farm for old Zacharias de Beer’s granddaughter on her marriage, this sturdy two roomed farmhouses (as it was then) conformed to a style popular in this part of the country in those early pioneering days. In its original guise, it has a thatch roof and whitewashed walls; the exposed timbers were painted green and the surrounds of the windows and doors a dark yellow. Near the main house were a barn, some sheds and several smaller outbuildings and a diary, but set apart from the main cluster of building was another barn whose purpose was reserved to produce vinegar and brandy – and of Wit-Blits, an extremely potent raw spirits not to be recommended for anyone but the most seasoned of drinkers. Perhaps therefore the barn was built a respectable distance from the family home.
Two rooms were clearly inadequate for a growing family and the main building was extended to accommodate and inside kitchen and living room. More rooms were added, and the final touch was the long veranda, which lends the old farmhouse its aura of stately elegance. Large and productive, the farm itself was ideal for planting vineyards and many other types of fruit, and over the years it came to be regarded as a as a model of efficiency. The name of this distinguished guest house means “Pine Garden” of “Pine Place”, but none of the original pines remains and, in their place, are varieties of cypresses.
Regrettably the house and its outbuilding were badly neglected during the 1970’s and fell into a sorry state of disrepair. With the intention of converting the old place into a guest house, the new owners began extensive renovations in 1994 and these included the introduction of plumbing, sewerage and electricity. Three new kitchens and bathrooms were added, ceilings replaced, walls and roofs repaired, and tiles and new flooring laid. But with these renovations great care was taken to use only recycled materials wherever possible. This had the desired effect of making the new virtually indistinguishable from the old. It is fortunate too that many old features remain, including the wood burning stoves, and the outsides of the buildings have been carefully painted to evoke the original colour scheme.
With a clear vision for the future combined with sensitivity to the historical and architectural significance of this fine old property, the present owners have forced the pace with further exciting renovations and extensions. The dam and windmill have been repaired and the magnificent old gardens, now under borehole irrigation, have been restored and enlarged. Declared a national monument in 1997, it was the first guest house in Prince Albert to be accredited by the South African tourism authorities and it has since been awarded four stars by the Tourism grading council. So successful have the restorations of this historic farmstead been that it has not only won the prestigious Simon van der Stel foundations award for conservation, but more importantly it has also been preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.
An 1835 Cape Dutch Farmhouse and outbuildings at the edge of the town, infused with great personality.
On a somnolet stone stoep dozed a collection of chairs, tables and a reclaimed pew.
Table settings sparkled in the sunlight beyond which dessert hills appeared through the feathery pepper trees…then there is the Karoo hospitality. Truly memorable.
Nights will pass star-gazing and sounds indentifying, whilst days can be spent on mountain bike riding, browsing or hiking…
Swimming in the old big round reservoir is a must…
I’d recommend you stayed at least 2 nights