Historic Newlands houses snapped up

Mount Pleasant in Newlands has sold for R12.15m and the new owners plan to preserve its rich historic feel.

The owners of two Victorian-era Newlands properties which sold for a jaw-dropping combined R19.15m are planning to preserve the historical integrity of their properties – a move welcomed by locals.

Mount Pleasant at 10 Newlands Avenue, sold for R12.15m, and Heritage Corner in Newlands Village, seold for R7m. The houses were built in the 1800s and housed some significant figures over the years.

Edna Moolman from Newlands has been living in the area for the past 23 years and said she is aware of both houses, especially the history behind them.

“These houses are truly something special. The design, the layout and most importantly the history is amazing. I really am delighted to hear the owners want to preserve its historical integrity, because it would have been really sad for the area to see such beauty go to waste,” she said.

Ms Moolman said of the two, the Mount Pleasant house stood out as so many “important figures” have lived under its roof.

“When you have such history standing in your area, you want to preserve things like that, hoping that it can stand for years to come as this is simply a thing of beauty and such a great piece of history. The new owners must be delighted with their purchase, because they had not just purchased a normal house, they purchased a piece of history,” she added.

Another Newlands resident who was happy to hear of the sale is Roderick van der Kamp, who stops at both houses on his morning walks.

Mr Van der Kamp moved to Cape Town from the Netherlands in 1996 and said he has always been an admirer of both houses.

“They are absolutely breathtaking. Apart from adding to the historical value of the area, they bring so much character to Newlands. The house at 10 Newlands Avenue (Mount Pleasant) reminds me of some of the houses back home, houses that also have so much history. The new owners will have so many stories to share,” he said.

“They haven’t bought a home or a property – they have bought a part of history.”

Mount Pleasant was built in 1883. it is an example of castellated Neo-Gothic architecture, with the garden being a treasure in its own right; boasting more flora species per square metre than any other garden in Newlands.

The house is also a provincial heritage site and has boasted an impressive list of well-known owners over the years including the Mayor of Rondebosch in the 1800s; and Albert van der Sandt Centlivres, Chief Justice of the Cape in the 1950s and Chancellor of the University of Cape Town. It has served as the site for the German Consulate and home of the British Commissioner and it was also owned for a short period in the 1980s by opera singer, Ge Korsten.

Heather Turner, one of Pam Golding Properties’ agents for Newlands, said the area was steeped in history, and the appeal of owning a vestige of a bygone area has bolstered investor interest in Newlands.

Referring to Mount Pleasant, Ms Turner said: “The previous owner had a love affair with this property, and it looks as if this is set to continue with the new owner.”

Ms Turner said the erf size of Mount Pleasant, at more than 3 200 square metres, is unusual for this high-density suburb.

There are four reception rooms, four bedrooms, a guest cloakroom and a large farm-style kitchen. One of the fireplaces, in the billiard room, is an Art Nouveau design. Other features on the property include secure parking for eight vehicles and a beautiful lake in the feature garden that was laid out by renowned horticulturist Marijke Honig. Many of the plants and trees in this floral gem date back several decades, and there is even a Camellia japonica flower dating back about 200 years.

The buyer, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We didn’t set out to buy a 130-year-old house; we were looking for something in the right location that had charm and a property with some character. Mount Pleasant has that in spades. It is utterly quirky and the history is enchanting.”

She added that in each chapter of the property’s history, owners made changes to suit their generation and lifestyle. “We hope to make a few small, sensitive changes mainly to capitalise on the magnificent north-aspect garden and mountain view. But I think the trick is to make the home your own while respecting and embracing the integrity of the original house,” the new owner said.

Heritage Corner in Newlands Village, also built in the 1880s, was once the stable of the historic Newlands House. This original home, situated on almost 600 square metres of land, has been sold for R7m after belonging to the present owner for 42 years.

The history of Newlands can be traced back to Governor Willem van der Stel who developed Nieuwland as his country residence in the 1700s. The land remained the property of the Dutch East India Company for many years, serving as a residence for many high-ranking officials.

Newlands Avenue was a key route for woodcutters, travellers and company officials to the forests and estates on the nearby mountain slopes.

The availability of fresh water and high rainfall contributed significantly to the emergence of Newlands Village. Many of the original buildings and homesteads remain, adding to the charm and appeal of this leafy suburb.

Another Pam Golding Properties agent for Newlands,Vickie Francis, said there’s a steady demand for property in the suburb, as it has managed to offer a “trendy, vibey lifestyle without compromising its historical charm”.

“Generally, our buyers are professional people who move around Newlands as their needs change. They may start in an apartment and then move to a family home as their circumstances change. Demand definitely outstrips the supply in this area, and the average selling price of properties across the board keeps rising,” she added.