In a nutshell, Wikipedia gives this information about the suburb where I live:

“Parkview is a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa. It borders the suburb of Greenside and overlooks Zoo Lake, a park which lies on the opposite side of Jan Smuts Avenue from the Johannesburg Zoo. All of its streets are named after Irish counties.”

The ancient homes here wear stone masonry characteristic to this residential node; they have iron pressed ceilings (which probably contain an unhealthy lead content) and floorboards hand crafted from Oregon Pines. These houses are often inhabited by third-generation families. In fact, properties here come quite rarely onto the market.

Our own crumbling pile is one of the ‘new’ houses in Parkview, having been built as recently as 1942.

Locals vehemently oppose modernization and applications from people wanting business rights on their land are unanimously vetoed. Modern convenience stores are verboten and support of the ‘high street’ shops is a proudly upheld tradition. The quirky population live a ‘village life’ and have included many famous names throughout the history ofJohannesburg; writers, artists and the finest legal minds.

The architecture in the high street is testament to the cheap labour that was available early in the 20th century; shop windows expertly carved, thick beveled glass, intricate staircases…

It’s a fairly insular community and newcomers aren’t exactly welcomed with open arms. But, occasionally, a ‘foreigner’ will worm his way in; a building may come on the market as a result of a deceased estate, some little old lady with no grandchildren waiting in the wings.

This happened in 2011. One of the most historic of the buildings was bought by a nouveau riche cowboy who believes that a bit of a makeover is needed ‘to bring in some light and make the shops pump with action and bring in big bucks’. Your man gutted the building, demolishing an oak staircase older than a century. He brought in neon lights and ersatz travertine marble flooring.

It all happened so fast, we were too late to lodge an objection with the authorities to try and protect the building and our little patch of history. The bugger must have a heart of galvanized steel, concrete running through his veins.

It’s sad, really sad.

This is my (late) contribution to Sidey’s latest theme.


96 Comments Add yours

  1. dinahmow says:

    The last photo looks like a depiction of a modern amenities block in the sort of place where piss-and-shit (I don’t feel like using genteel words!) is hosed out with high pressure fire hoses.
    Beyond sad. 😦

    1. theonlycin says:

      I couldn’t have said it better, Dinah 🙂

  2. dinahmow says:

    Forgot my manners! Happy New Year, Cindy.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Same to you, Hon 🙂

  3. Tes says:

    Oh that’s really sad! I remember when the municipality decided to cut down big trees that lined our streets a few years ago. There’re all more than 100 years old…and it’s so sad. I love old towns with histories and with every little things that have memories in them 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      It’s criminal, Tes 😦

  4. Mal says:

    Aww, this is so sad. What happened to conservation and preservation?? Keep the man away from the elephants and rhinos.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Yep, he is that kinda guy 😦

  5. MaanKind says:

    Do you locals support so ‘n bliksem?

    1. theonlycin says:

      Mostly not, MK, but there will always be those who really don’t give a damn 😦

  6. Sparkle says:

    It must really be sad for you the locals.

  7. leigh says:

    It’s a testament to not belonging, there’s some irony there….

  8. Hotly Spiced says:

    That is appalling. What a travesty. The man should have stayed away instead of creating a blight in such a charming, historical part of Jo’berg.

    1. theonlycin says:

      He deserves a very, very modern crematorium 😦

  9. nursemyra says:

    He must have slipped some graft to someone to get away with it

    1. theonlycin says:

      No doubt about it, Myra.

  10. dearrosie says:

    We visited your neighborhood when we were in Joburg earlier this year. We both loved that your shops were on an old fashioned tree-lined street and not in a mall in sight.
    What happened to the wood from the staircase? Was that salvaged?

    1. theonlycin says:

      Nobody knows, Rosie …

  11. Tandy says:

    we had those old pressed ceiling in our home where we grew up – they are amazing!

    1. theonlycin says:

      They sure do evoke nostalgia in many people 🙂

  12. Sally says:

    So sad – I’m not into preserving everything that’s old for the sake of it but this is vandalism

  13. I think what he did was probably very nice… just not there! Not in an area with historical buildings. What a pity he was let loose there.

  14. Tilly Bud says:

    If you all feel like that, he’ll probably go out of business. Justice.

    1. theonlycin says:

      We’ll have to wait and see, Tilly.

  15. bandsmoke says:

    How awful 😦 So inappropriate in your area! To quell the naysayers there are obviously some circumstances where so called “modernising” works but not where the beauty is in the history! By the by – wonderful “Noel 2011 redux” post 🙂 you are looking so well!

  16. Pseu says:

    Tilly said just what I was about about to say…. he’ll have no local business, I presume?

    1. theonlycin says:

      Nobody can say, Pseu, people are fickle.

  17. SidevieW says:

    I was there a few days ago and felt quite out of place, slip and slide on the shiny floor

    1. theonlycin says:

      I know, one has to step very lightly and anyone watching would think one had tarried too long at Francos …

      1. SidevieW says:

        it will be so dangerous in the wet. hopefully anyone hurt can sue the pants off the man

  18. suzicate says:

    So sad to see beautiful historic achitecture shredded and replaced with steel and concrete structures.

    1. theonlycin says:

      It’s devastating, SuziCate 😦

  19. adeeyoyo says:

    Well, that is sad, Cin. I hope it doesn’t happen again. What a pity.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Spilt milk, eh, adee? So sad.

  20. colonialist says:

    That Philistine needs to be locked up in his puke palace until he takes to dribbling to himself and playing with what he finds in his nappies.
    Then he should be disposed of.
    I hope everyone is sensible enough not to take bucks of any size anywhere near the place. That soulless space cries out for being deserted and unobserved.

  21. yadayadafishpaste says:

    Tasteless. You want to ask him, “So you destroyed THAT to make THIS?!” Nope, I rather prefer the M&B up the street and the cupcake stand 😦

    1. theonlycin says:

      Scusi is even better, modernised, but sympathetically 🙂

  22. Tammy says:

    Seriously? That’s criminal! And, now a silly question. Those Oregon pine floors, is that the US oregon or is there another?

    1. theonlycin says:

      “Genuine American Oregon seasoned timber comes from the floorboards and roofing trusses recovered from houses and buildings constructed in South Africa in the early 1900’s. Oregon imported from Canada and North America was used in this era because a suitable structural timber was required for floors and roofing, and there were insufficient South African indigenous hardwoods, like yellowwood, to meet the demand without destroying our natural forests.”

  23. slpmartin says:

    Love that the community (in general) protects the historical building…too many have been lost.

    1. theonlycin says:

      You’re right, Charlie, we’ll never be able to measure what has been lost.

  24. Ruth says:

    A travesty – it shouldn’t be allowed… but these guys think it’s all about the fast buck.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Money, greed … killing the world, Ruth 😦

  25. nrhatch says:

    Oh, your neighborhood is gorgeous, Cindy! Really love the details . . . except, of course, for the lack of interesting features in the bottom photo. YUCK!

    1. theonlycin says:

      I imagine you’d vomit and shout at the man, Nancy. Would love to have your legal skills to put him back in his box and restore things to what they were!

    2. nrhatch says:

      Thanks for all your support this year. The Drunken Monkeys say . . .

      You are NUMBER THREE!!!

      Thanks so much!!!!

      Have a magical, mystical, and miraculous New Year.

      1. theonlycin says:

        You too, Nancy 🙂

  26. souldipper says:

    Yike. Something tells me he’s a man of very boring pillow talk!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Bwahahaha, Amy, maybe wrecking national heritage is his own personal Viagra? ROTFLMAO!

  27. bluebee says:

    Vile style, that last place – what’s it to be, anyway?

    What a crime to demolish an oak staircase – he could have at least had it properly removed and preserved for sale

    1. theonlycin says:

      Who knows, bluebee? There’s none so queer as folk, eh?

  28. jakesprinter says:

    Excellent post you have a great style in photography theonlycin 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thank you, Jakes 🙂

  29. libraryscene says:

    That last picture is akin to a level in Dante…modernizing is one thing, but to have complete disregard for the history and the flow of what is in ones environment is rude and well, RUDE! Cowboy, indeed, the design looks like the ugly malls of America ~

    1. theonlycin says:

      It’s beyond distasteful, LS 😦

  30. sonsothunder says:

    Wow, the one store front, strip mall looking building may be shabbily constructed as you say…But, so reminds me of the New Orleans “French Quarter”

    Bless You…
    Hummm what’s that smell? Is someone cooking “Ox -Tail” again?

    1. theonlycin says:

      Don’t tempt mee, Honey, I’m in the mood for cooking a slow pot of the stuff 🙂

  31. bb(adair) says:

    There is a law in this country for this but like so many others it is not enforced.The Heritage Society also has no teeth.We have the same problem in my area where a lot of the houses (including mine)are over a 100 years old.

    1. theonlycin says:

      It just sucks, Adair, we need to make some noise about this 😦

  32. This nouveau riche cowboy certainly reinforces the bit about newcomers not being welcomed with open arms, which is quite sad to start off with.
    Have a Happy New Year – my bubbly is already nicely chilled.
    🙂 Mandy

    1. theonlycin says:

      Enjoy, Mandy, I still need to go and buy mine 🙂

  33. Kattelina says:

    That is so sad! We need our history badly!

  34. ceciliag says:

    Oh misery. i can understand how dreadful you must feel seeing that bland result. Destruction is so fast and so final. My immediate question was where is the staircase? I hope they did not scrap it.. ! Awful.. Bloody Cowboys! c

    1. theonlycin says:

      Nobody can provide answers about the staircase, Cec, it is so frustrating 😦

  35. Naomi says:

    OMG, Cin, such a lovely insight into your suburb (which I’m really not familiar with), followed by rather a shock…sad for you all! xo

    1. theonlycin says:

      It is so sad, Naomi 😦

  36. What an awful change. A continual eyesore at the heart of the community….

    1. theonlycin says:

      I knew you’d agree with mee, Kate!

  37. What a beautiful, quaint little place you have there, Cindy! It must be wonderful living in such a village atmosphere. Have you been there all your lives?

    1. theonlycin says:

      No Celia, we’ve only been here six years.

  38. johnlmalone says:

    one of the joys of following your blog Cindy is learning about the are you live in, its quaint village life — and I feel, with you, the desecration of a lovely old property . I wonder if amongst the writers of your village there are any short story practitioners

    1. theonlycin says:

      There are many, John, most notably Nadine Gordimer.

  39. SidevieW says:

    i wonder what happened to the wood, maybe origen got it all and it is being re-worked to refurbish a home needing ot

  40. I know I’ve been a bit quiet, I’m sorry… I hope you have a fabulous 2012 Cin! Lots of Love xxx

    1. theonlycin says:

      Same to you, Hon xxx

  41. It sounds as if you live in a magical fantasy land. One where that silly man does not belong. Your shops are so interesting and beautiful. All we have is bland strip malls and even blander big box stores. No character and charm whatsoever. I remember the old, old JC Penny store from when I was a child. It had a huge wide staircase in the middle. It wasn’t grand but it was more interesting than an escalator which by the way I despise. There was a quaint little dress shop on main street where my mom bought all of my clothes. Now that part of town is the “bad” part of town where no one wants to go. Main street in the town I live in now keeps trying to stay alive but really it’s no use. It was built for another time. The economy can’t sustain it any longer.

    Hope you have a wonderful new year. All the best to you and yours. 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Blessings to you too 🙂

  42. Sparkle says:

    Compliments of the new year Cin! looking forward to a nwe post after four days 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Battling to keep up, Sparky. Best wishes to you too 🙂

  43. granny1947 says:

    Hi My Friend…am not getting your notifications…again.
    What a gorgeous suburb…I must explore Cape Town…wonder if we have something like that here?
    I notice you have not posted for yonks…have you been away?

    1. theonlycin says:

      Nope, just busy … Doesn’t Parkview remind you of Simonstown? Or Chelsea Wynberg?

  44. pinkpolkadot says:

    Hi Cindy, all the best for 2012! I am Internetless at the moment and I am just peeping in quickly form work!! Misiing all of you!

    1. theonlycin says:

      I wondered why you were so quiet, happy 2012 to you too, Pinky 🙂

  45. The Hook says:

    That is incredibly unfortunate. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder though, right? Unfortunately this guy was blind!

  46. Hi Cindy. I am looking to restore a house in Parkview. Please could I ask if any of you are aware of a website which would offer a history of the architecture in ParkView?
    Much appreciated 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      You can contact, Nicole, they will be able to guide you. Good luck.

  47. Jane says:

    Ive just moved to Parkview from abroad. Bought an old bungalow and refurbished completely. I appreciate the history and character features of the homes here but a lot of these old houses are impractical and shabby. Tin ceilings with rust, unsecure single glazed rickety timber windows, poor insulation, crummy old fashioned bathrooms, suboptimal heating, crumbling old brickwork. There is a lot of property here now coming on to the market most in dire need of updating. Time to start welcoming outsiders ’cause they’re paying top dollar for these old, shabby homes, turning them into beautiful contemporary dwellings befitting of the beautiful surroundings and in the process improving the security and increasing the calibre and value of the whole neighborhood.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Valid point, Jane, but I still think Europa is dreadful.

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