Masonic Hall - Lodge de Goede Hoop
Anton ANREITH: Sculptor
Herman SCHUTTE: Contractor
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Bouquet St now Stal Plein, consecrated 1803 in presence of de Mist - THIBAULT with H SCHUTTE (De Bosdari 1954; Lewcock 1963:54)
The western corner of Stal Plein is formed by a group of old buildings historically and architecturally unique in Cape Town. To the right is the State President's Residence, formerly Government House, whose history goes back to the days of the Van der Stels. To the left of it is the building of the Government Printer, the former Banqueting Hall of the Lodge de Goede Hoop. This hall housed the Cape Parliament for many years, but it was later turned into the Goede Hoop Theatre. To the left of the Government Printing Works, behind the ornate gateway, stands the masonic building — the Lodge de Goede Hoop.
In 1772 the foundation of the masonic order in South Africa was laid by the establishment of the Lodge de Goede Hoop. It received its warrant from the Grand Lodge National of the Netherlands. At first the Brothers had their meetings in a new building which they hired and adapted to their requirements. After 1794 they hired a building which stood on the site of the former Union Hotel in Plein Street. This site belonged to Abraham de Smidt, a prominent Freemason of that time. They subsequently bought the building, but it soon proved to be inadequate for their purpose. Thus in 1800 they purchased the grounds, on which the Lodge now stands, from a certain George Muller.
This property was known as (the Garden) Domburg. Originally this piece of land came from two grants — the one in 1666 to the Governor at that time, Zacharias Wagenaar, and the other in 1667 to Maria Prignon, the widow of the Rev. P. Wagtendorp. In 1668 both came into the hands of H E Gresingh and thereafter continued as one property. The Freemasons converted the existing buildings on the premises into a Temple and a Club Room, but shortly after decided to erect a proper building in which to meet. For this purpose they had at their disposal the services of three men from their own ranks — the select triumvirate of that time: Louis Michel THIBAULT, architect; Herman SCHUTTE, builder, and Anton ANREITH, sculptor.
In 1801 Brother Louis THIBAULT drew the plans for the masonic buildings. A contract was entered into with Brother Herman SCHUTTE to erect it for £6 000 (R12 000) and Brother Anton Anreith was instructed to make four statues of symbolic figures, larger than life-size, to put up along the walls in the Temple and three more to use in other rooms.
While the Lodge was in course of construction, the Cape was given back to the Batavian Republic in terms of the Treaty of Amiens. Adv. J H de Mist was sent to the Cape as Commissioner to put the administration on a sound basis. His arrival was of great importance to the Freemasons because in the Netherlands he was the Deputy Grand Master National and he was instructed to inquire into masonic affairs at the Cape and to put things right if he deemed it necessary. He had the honour to consecrate the Temple on the 7th July, 1803, and a large concourse gathered.
De Mist himself described the Lodge as the most beautiful in the world. The strong and bold facade of the building was, and still is, very striking. The interior was indeed impressive. From the entrance hall steps led up to the Temple — a huge hall with a florid, barrel-vaulted ceiling and the four statues of Anton Anreith against the wall.
During the forties of the nineteenth century the Freemasons had the Banqueting Hall built next to the Lodge. This hall housed the Cape Parliament from 1854 till 1884 when the present House of Assembly was completed.
In February, 1892, the Lodge, together with the Banqueting Hall, was largely gutted by a devastating fire. Of the Lodge only the Master's Room, the vestibule, the waiting room and one of the other apartments were not destroyed. The loss of Anton Anreith's four statues was incalculable, but fortunately the other three statues in the undamaged part of the building remained unscathed. These three statues — a standing figure with the finger on the mouth, a dying figure and a grieved mother with a child — are representative of Anton Anreith's sculpture at its zenith and they symbolise Silence, Death and Bereavement.
The Freemasons had the Lodge rebuilt and in April, 1893 it was completed and consecrated. While the Banqueting Hall was being repaired, it was turned into a theatre and it was used as such till 1916 when the Government acquired the building.
This building has links with Parliament that go back a long time. It was used for sittings of the Cape House of Assembly from 1854 to 1884. After that it served as the banqueting hall of the Good Hope Masonic Lodge until it was destroyed by a fire in 1892. Around 1900, it was rebuilt as a music hall and theatre and known as the Good Hope Theatre.
Before 1910 alterations were made to the interior by John CRAN.
[Our Parliament - pocket guide: nd. Parliamentary Communication Services. p 34]
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