Castle Mansions - Second
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(SAB Feb 1931:41; SAB Sep 1932: xxvii ill)
CASTLE MANSIONS is one of the most impressive of all Johannesburg's modern buildings. There is romance connected with this building as with many others in the Golden City, for Castle Mansions, not as we know it to-day, but in humbler guise, has played its part in history.
When the Boer War broke out, Castle Mansions already rising behind scaffolding, had to be abandoned until the Transvaal had become part Of the British Empire. Lord Milner, then first High Commissioner, re-creating the entire machinery of the Government, was compelled to find adequate and suitable premises for all the staffs and departments connected with such a creation. Castle Mansions, then half-finished, offered a solution, and Within a very short time, Lord Milner took up his residence in the long new three-storeyed -block in Eloff Street.
Little need to follow the growth and importance of Eloff Street, perhaps the greatest shopping centre in South ,Africa, but in 1930 instructions were given for the preparation of plans for a new Castle Mansions, and one which would reach the city's legal height limit. As a matter of fact, if one considers the central tower and its flagstaff, it exceeds the legal limit.
Here are ten storeys, nine full area floors above a basement, with one other and smaller storey in the central tower. The building serves a threefold purpose. On the ground floor are twelve shops, each with its own basement. The first floor consists oi fifteen large showrooms, each fitted with plate-glass windows and parquetry floors. The second floor and up are residential fats and suites of professional-rooms. There are forty, two and three-room flats and eighteen bachelor fiats. The tenth floor provides servants' accommodation.
The flats have their entrance halls panelled. Kitchens and bathrooms have tiled walls and mosaic floors. The floors of all living rooms, halls and corridors, are covered with cork blocks laid parquetry to eliminate noise.
Living rooms are equipped with chromium-plated electric fires set in walnut veneer surrounds.
All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.
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