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House G Olivier: The Towers
Oudtshoorn, Western Cape

Charles BULLOCK: Architect
John Thomas (Jnr) COOPER: Contractor


This doublestorey manor house (feather palace) was designed for Mr. Gert Olivier by C. BULLOCK in 1902. Bullock was then still in the service of the P.W.D. M.L.A. and Mayor of the town. This building was certainly the most beautiful of all his work. It was designed in the Art Noveau (new art) style and built of local dressed yellowbrown sandstone by the contractor J.T. COOPER (Jnr.). The balcony and verandah poles were decorated with castiron brackets and balcony railings (from MacFarlane's catalogue). The roof line was broken by towers. One octagonal tower was above octaganal rooms at one corner of the building. The other tower, topped by a crown of iron work, was placed squarely over the main entrance. The main roof was gabled on either side of the central tower and decorated with ornate barge boarding. The ridges of the roof were decorated with castiron cresting and finials. Wide steps flanked by urns, led from the garden to the lower verandah and the arched front door. Encaustic tiles covered the flooring and continued throughout the hallway. A teak staircase inside linked the lower with the top storey. The top window panels were fitted with stained glass.

The twenty lavishly decorated rooms were of French design with white and gold wallpaper and festoons of pink roses. The papier mache ceilings were painted cream and gold with amorini (a small cupid or winged putto of a chubby infant, often naked boy - baroque ) in gilt. The hall and dining rooms were panelled in teak.

The municipal valuation for the building in 1907 was £8,500. In 1955 the Olivier family sold the property to the P.W.D. Later it was used first as a women's residence and afterwards as a men's hostel for students of the Oudtshoorn Teachers' Training college. In 1966 after a thorough inspection of the foundations, it was decided to demolish the building. The new Oudtshoorn High School (designed by SIMPSON & BRIDGMAN) was inaugurated in 1968 on the site of the old "Towers".

(Ferreira 1982:12)

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.

Writings about this entry

Ferreira, Naas. 1982A Sandstone Architect of Oudtshoorn : Charles Bullock 1870-1909. Restorica: Journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation in July, No 11. pp 12
Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1977. Victorian Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pg 156 ill