Where Riverstone and Wynberg Main roads meet is a thatch house that has survived the attentions of developers to become an important part of Wynberg’s heritage.
Elevated above the road, behind bushes and fencing, in the shadow of Maynardville shopping mall, La Pleasance is easy to miss. It was once one of a series of similar cottages.
This house and its neighbouring Dunheved came to prominence with the official proclamation of the road scheme in the 1960s.
In July 2000, Dunheved was badly damaged by an electrical fire that destroyed the thatched roof and the woodwork. The walls were later demolished for safety reasons.
La Pleasance was listed among other historical buildings in the heritage impact assessment (HIA) that recently went out for public review, as part of a City planning application for demolitions and property expropriations that will lay the groundwork for the new MyCiTi routes (“Call to weigh MyCiTi’s heritage toll on Wynberg,” Bulletin August 5).
In the report, South African art and architectural historian Hans Fransen notes that La Pleasance, with the land, was originally granted to Richard Turner in 1839. In the early 19th century, Justice Benjamin lived there.
From 1930 to 1970, it was the home and surgery of a Dr Cole and his wife, also Dr Cole, who stayed on in the house after she was widowed.
Dr Cole and her neighbours, the Horne family, were deeply concerned about the fate of their properties, which were expropriated in 1970 for road building, according to Wynberg historian, Dr Helen Robinson who, in 2001, wrote that La Pleasance was still standing but was not in good shape.
According to Dr Robinson’s book, Wynberg, A Special Place, the archaeology contracts office at UCT carried out test excavations behind Dunheved and La Pleasance in 1993. The artefacts recovered ranged from ceramics and glassware to metal and bone,
In her book, Dr Robinson says, “A relevant contemporary use for it is being sought, and it is hoped that this cottage will not be lost as so many others have been in the past. Imagine what it must have looked like years ago, when these same colonnades witnessed a tram service and the train station, and functioned as a major place to acquire goods ie to shop.
“From this same intersection, you will be able to still catch a glimpse of a thatched roof cottage opposite Maynard Mall on Main Road.”
The City’s spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said the property was being considered for operational use by a City department.