Klaas (jnr) VAN RIJSSE: Architect
While none of the buildings on the Pretoria Station possessed any dignity to reflect the status of the Company, the NZASM made sure that at least its Managing Director's residence was presentable. The 'NZASM House' as it was called, was erected in 1894 (demolished in 1958) on the north-western corner of Jacob Mare and Paul Kruger Street, one block from the station. It served a double function as residence and Director's Office for G A A Middelberg and his successor, J A van Kretschmar van Veen. With this imposing double-storied villa, it is clear that the NZASM aimed at a formal design of high quality.
(De Jong et al, 1988. p, 135)
According to De Volkstem this house was completed by 1889 to the design of the architect Klaas van RIJSSE, but it is not clear who first lived there. The contractor was WA de RAPPER. If what we have on GAA MIDDLEBERG is correct then he first came to live in Pretoria permanently in 1894.
Externally it is of rusticated stuccadoor with stick-work and timbered stoep in the Wilhemiens Style. The roof-combs [dakhek] were of wrought iron. It had twelve rooms located over two storeys. The reception room, the northern room off the entrance, was done out in timbered panelling in neo-Renaissance style and stuccoed decorative ceiling. The outbuildings comprised a coach-house, stables and accommodation for servants. It cost £6 000 [ZAR Ponde].
The only other house at the time was that of Eddie Bourke, directly opposite and the northern aspect from the stoep had a clear view to Meintjieskop. The house served as a centre of hospitality, culture and music and was visited by the President, Paul Kruger, an especially memorable occasion being when he arrived unannounced, requesting that he be taken to see the railway coach especially fitted for his use, he being unable to contain his curiosity [This is now located in the display of the Kruger House Museum]
MIDDELBERG left in 1899, but his son stayed on as lodger to his successor and subsequent occupier of the house, J. VAN KRETSCHMAR VAN VEEN, so as to complete his education at the then recently completed Gymnasium. He joined the Hollander Corps and was repatriated to the Netherlands, where he served for fifteen years as Chairman of the Nederland-Zuid-Afrika Vereniging although on his retirement in 1951 he returned to South Africa.
The NZASM official was evicted from the home when the British occupied Pretoria in 1900 of the South African War and it served as accommodation for the British forces, and later remained in the service of the military until its demolition.
[Translated and transliterated from the researches of Rosa Swanepoel]
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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