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.