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155 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch

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Anonymous
Post date: 07/08/2012
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History: Just as these houses are still linked together, the various families who occupied them throughout the years were often also linked. The erf on which Nos. 153, 155 and 157 stand today, was known in olden times as Erf H and it was about 4 000 m in extent. Since 1704 it was in the hands of Jacobus van der Berg, although it was formally granted to him only in 1713. In 1788 P. G. Wium, the owner at the time, sold two erven to the east of No. 153 but he kept the rest. In 1799 Wouter Wium inherited this erf from his father’s estate, but he soon sold it to Coenraad E. Ackermann, who in turn transferred it to Fred. Jac. Hauptfieisch in 1812. He probably built the house which indeed is known as Hauptfleisch-house. After Hauptfleisch the property was successively owned by well-known old Stellenbosch families—F. R. L. Neethling, C. L. Neethling (son of F.R.L.), J. R. Joubert and Willem van Blommenstein in 1879.
Let us now return to Nos. 155 and 157. As already stated P. G. Wium sold the piece of land on which the two houses stand today, in 1788. He sold it to his son-in-law, Hen drik Ludolph Neethling, son of the well-known C. L. Neethling, former secretary of the Council of Justice and the builder of Grosvenor House. Only two years later Neethling sold the property to Cornelis M. Smuts. During his occupancy he must have built one of the houses, most probably No. 155 Dorp Street, because in 1798 he sold both house and erf to Meuwes Janse Bakker.
The take-over by Bakker makes the history of this property significant. Originally he was a sailor by profes sion. The man-of-war on board of which he was, was shipwrecked off the coast of South America, but he was one of those who miraculously escaped with their lives. Out of gratitude for this deliverance, he decided to devote his life to mission work among the heathen at the Cape. He settled at Stellenbosch where he purchased the house and the erf in Dorp Street. Here, at first on his own hook, he taught a few slave-children. He had a few staunch supporters of missionary work in the Stellenbosch church council such as elder J. Groenewald and deacon J. N. Desch, and before long the council decided on official recognition of his work and on financial assistance.
In 1799 Het Zuid-Afrikaansche Genootschap for furthering the expansion of God’s Kingdom was founded in Cape Town and Desch and Bakker were nominated by the missionary friends at Stellenbosch as correspondents to the Society. However, the Rev. Meent Borcherds, then the minister of Stellenbosch, could no see his way to supporting the Society, although he was not blind to the existing need for missionary work within the confines of the congregation. Thus at the instance of the minister the church council appointed Bakker as missionary in Stellenbosch and accepted all financial obligations in connection with his work. In August, 1799 the slaves began attending divine service on Sunday afternoons and Bakker achieved so much success that his house in Dorp Street became too small to house all those who attended.
However, Bakker was not at all happy about the fact that 68 he was not an ordained missionary and thus he left for the
Netherlands in 1800 to obtain the required training. In his absence his friend, J. N. Desch, and other enthusiasts formed• their own society—the Stellenbosche Mede werkende (collaborating) Genootschap—without previously consulting the church council. Thus relations between the church council and those doing missionary work at Stellenbosch became strained. Bakker returned in 1801 and when he identified iimself with Desch’s society, the church council dispensed with his services. Nevertheless he continued at his house with his day-school for slave- children and the divine services for the Coloured people on Sundays. Fortunately the breach between him and the church council was healed in 1803, when he, on the invitation of the latter, agreed to do his work again under their supervision.
Tireless, although poor health was sapping his energy, Bakker, assisted by his wife, continued with his tuition of the slave-children at 155 Dorp Street till 1815. However, as far as he was concerned there was no higher calling than the preaching of the Gospel to the heathen and the divine service every Sunday was so well attended that his residence could not house all the worshippers. Already in 1810 the Directors of the Stellenbosche 1V Genootschap considered building a training-school of their own, but Bakker was not in favour of thi for he wanted all the training to be done at his home. In 1819 he offered his house for sale to the Directors so that it could be used as a place of worship and a school after his death, because it was his wish that his house should be used for missionary work as long as there was a nail left in it. The Directors turned down his offer but, nevertheless, they bought No. 157 Dorp Street from him in 1820. In the same year he also sold a small piece of land to his neighbour, F. R. L. Neethling of No. 153 Dorp Street. In 1822 the Society was granted an erf on the Braak where they began building a meeting house (oefeninghuis). This is the present Rhenish Church. In the same year Bakker was succeeded as missionary by the Rev. Erasmus Smit, but Bakker stayed on at No. 155.
In 1825 the Missionary Society sold No. 157 Dorp Street to one David Kinneburg and he must have built the present house during the same year, because this date appears on the front gable. In 1833 Kinneburg also purchased the house of the Rev. M. Bakker—No. 155 Dorp Street.
For more than three-quarters of a century these two houses were jointly owned by the same consecutive owners , Kinneburg (1833-1857), Hendrik C. Hugo (1857-1860), the widow of Jacobus P. Roux (1860-1871) and C. F. Beyers (1871-1887). In 1887 the houses came into the possession of a highly remarkable man—Hubertus Elifers, writer of Dutch schoolbooks and grammars. He was then on the staff of the Stellenbosch Gymnasium, which was situated a little lower down the street. During his short stay of about three years in these houses, he must have prepared the reissues of his “Practical Dutch Grammar and Analysis” and “An elementary grammar of the Dutch language for the use of the lower classes in schools”. Here he must also have written his “Practische Hollandsche Spraakkunst”.
Elffers left Stellenbosch round about 1890 to take up a teaching post at Smithfield, O.F.S. Thereafter these houses changed hands again and again until No. 157 Dorp Street came into the possession of Bob Loubser, the well-known Springbok rugby-player and later also Member of Parliament for Stellenbosch. Hence this house is known as Loubser House.
Thus Nos. 155 and 157, Dorp Street, are of signal importance in the history of missionary work and literture at Stellenbosch. But these two single-storeyed houses with their modest gables are also architecturally important. No. 157 Dorp Street is indeed one of the few houses with a roundel motif on the pilasters on either side of the gable-window.
Proclaimed 1970"
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Construction Date: c1790
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