Heritage plaque unveiled

Beau Soleil Music Centre principal Marina Louw.

The Beau Soleil Music Centre unveiled its blue heritage plaque during their end-of-term concert on Saturday November 24, at the centre.

The music centre was awarded the plaque for the historical significance of its building – a double-storey neo-Gothic mansion in Salisbury Road, Kenilworth, which was built in 1877 by Dirk Cloete.

The mansion, called Beau Soleil from the outset, was declared a national monument on June 10 1983 under old legislation.

This is one of four awards that are given annually to schools in the province by the Centre for Conservation Education and the Simon van der Stel Foundation.

Principal Marina Louw said the building had a number of fine neo-Gothic and Victorian architectural features, including examples of teak woodwork, Victorian floor tiles, an Edinburgh cast-iron fireplace and a painted ceiling in the drawing room, which now serves as the centre’s reception office.

After Mr Cloete died in 1891, the property was sold to John Dean Cartwright, who owned the building for 29 years before selling it to Colonel JG (Jack) Rose, a war veteran who lived at Beau Soleil until his death at the age of 97 in 1973.

Ms Louw said the property was expropriated by the Administrator of the Cape in favour of the Provincial Secretary and Director of Education in 1974.

“Fortunately the building was rescued from demolition by the Committee of Voortrekker High School, the school adjacent to the Beau Soleil grounds,” she said.

Johann Zietsman, an architect and musician, became the first head of the centre and was put in charge of renovations and alterations. The building was officially reopened on April 15 1983 as Beau Soleil Music Centre.

Sigi Howes, from the Centre for Conservation Education, said the Blue Plaque Schools Project was a joint venture between them and the Simon van der Stel Heritage Foundation.

“Blue plaques are recognised as heritage markers all over the world. The Simon van der Stel Foundation has been awarding blue plaques to sites in Cape Town for over 20 years; and since 2015 schools can now also be considered for blue plaque heritage status.

“The schools are always delighted when they are told they have been awarded a blue plaque. Beau Soleil Music Centre got its plaque for its architecturally significant building,” said Ms Howes.

Ms Louw said the school had grown from its initial 100 students in 1982 to its current capacity of 400 students.

“The centre has produced some of South Africa’s finest professional musicians, both locally and internationally. Many past pupils have also returned to join the Beau Soleil teaching staff, carrying the proud tradition forward,” she said.