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Castle Mansions - Second
Johannesburg, Gauteng


Type:Flats with shops to street
Style:Art Deco
Street:87-93 Eloff St


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26°12'06.96" S 28°02'35.32" E Alt: 1766m

(SAB Feb 1931:41; SAB Sep 1932: xxvii ill)

Cumming-George 1934

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 of fifteen large showrooms, each fitted with plate-glass windows and parquetry floors. The second floor and up are residential flats and suites of professional rooms. There are forty, two and three-room flats and eighteen bachelor flats. 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.


Transcription of Blue Plaque:


In 1931, replacing a small building of the same name,
architects Emley and Williamson used modern material and
Art Deco motifs for a new “Castle” in Eloff Street, which was
then the city’s most fashionable shopping street. Pre-cast
concrete blocks provide a sense of strength and endurance;
the central attic tower hints at a stronghold of the
fortress, the keep. The flagpole right at the top, which
made it the tallest building in Johannesburg at
the time enhances the notion of a citadel
with pennant flying aloft.

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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.

Books that reference Castle Mansions - Second

Cumming-George, L. 1934. Architecture in South Africa - Volume Two. Cape Town: The Speciality Press of S.A. Ltd.. pg 43-44
van der Waal, Gerhard-Mark. 1987. From Mining Camp to Metropolis - The buildings of Johannesburg 1886-1940. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council. pg 208 ill