Call for community to support retirement home

The Brown and Annie Lawrence Home in Pinelands.

It was 86 years ago when the late Brown Lawrence came up with the idea to build a home for his employees to retire to, but little did he know the home would one day turn into a well-know retirement village.

The Brown and Annie Lawrence Home is a residential facility for the elderly, situated in Pinelands.

Current manager at the home, Helen Matuszek, explained that Mr Lawrence had built the home for his own employees, but later wanted it to continue running as an old age home after his employees no longer occupied it.

“The home can easily be described as a a gracious old lady, a comfortable old-time residential hotel. A home with so much history attached to it and it would be great to get the community involved with something that has been around for 86 years,” she said.

Mr Lawrence was born in 1839. He arrived in Cape Town in May 1860, aboard the ship Wellington.

His first wife, Margaret McCallum, died in March 1867 and Annie Sheldon then became Mr Lawrence’s second wife.

The Lawrences lived at 46 Constitution Street in 1865, also at 1 Chapel Street, later at Somerset House in Roeland Street, and finally in Bon Accord in Rondebosch.

Sadly, Mr Lawrence’s second wife, Annie, died on June 1 1921 in London, England, after a short illness and was buried in Woltemade Cemetery, Maitland.

Mr Lawrence became a successful businessman and benefactor in the Cape Town region.

He was chairman of Brown Lawrence & Co at 33 Barack Street, a candle and soap manufacturer and general dealer.

The company B Lawrence and Co was registered in 1901, although the business no doubt existed earlier.

It was in 1922, March 26, when Mr Lawrence died, aged 83 years and was buried alongside his second wife at the Woltemade Cemetery in Maitland.

The Brown and Annie Lawrence Home was then established in Pinelands, and officially opened by Princess Alice, the wife of the Earl of Athlone, Governor General of the Cape, on February 21 1930.

The inaugural meeting of the board of the Brown and Annie Lawrence Home was held on March 8 1929, with the first residents of the home believed to have moved in during November 1929.

Ms Matuszek said a “life-rights retirement village” with 39 units, Broadwalk Mews, was built on the grounds of the home and was officially opened in 2002, with a community of about 100 residents, who lived happily in this community.

Now, the Brown and Annie Lawrence Home are calling on the Pinelands community to jump on board and serve on the residents’ committee, which comprises of between two to seven residents of the home, an elected staff member, the manager of the facility and one representative from the local community.

“The residents of the home are represented by a residents’ committee. The composition of the residents’ committee is laid down in the regulations relating to The Older Persons Act, 2006,” Ms Matuszek said.

The home held their annual general meeting last month (July 27), calling for members of the public to represent the residents’ committee, but Ms Matuszek disappointingly said: “Up till now we have not had a member on the committee representing the local community.”

The Older Persons Act’s regulations state that the manager of a residential facility must at least advertise 30 days before a residents’ committee is to be constituted, through the local media and in the languages most used in that area, inviting members of the community to nominate a person to serve on the residents’ committee.

Ms Matuszek said the home already had a working committee in place, but in order to ensure transparency, management want-ed to make the nomination public.

“It is necessary to go to the radio or newspapers to invite the community to nominate someone to serve on the residents’ committee. The rationale behind this section in the act is transparency reasons. Therefore, the legislation is very specific regarding implementation.

“Thus, I cannot suggest something else which is not line with what the legislation prescribed,” Ms Matuszek said.

Members of the Pinelands community are invited to submit nominations for the community representative.

Nominations can be submitted to the manager, Helen Matuszek, on email to For more information, contact Ms Matuszek on 021 530 4400.