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Rothmann House (JVDS House and Cottage)
Swellendam, Western Cape

Client:Johannes Christoffel Rothman
Street:268 Voortrek Street


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34°02'11.52" S 20°25'36.73" E Alt: 105m

This house was built by Johannes Christoffel Rothmann, blacksmith, in 1834. The initials on the gable, JVDS. have caused much confusion, especially as a certain J van der Spuy was living in Swellendam at the time. However, no connection between him and the house can be traced. Lance Tomlinson got the information that the letters stand for 'Jaar Van De Slaven' from Douw Gerbrandt Steyn of the farm Voorhuis aan die Breede Rivier, who was born c1855. JC Rothmann died in 1873, so DG Steyn was likely to have heard the information first-hand. The interpretation is supported by the inscription (now obliterated) 'Vry Gekoght' [Freedom bought] in the semicircular cap of the west side gable.

The house is T-shaped, with holbol end-gables. The front-gable, similar to that of Kliprivier, has the characteristics of the so-called 'Swellendam Gable' - distinctly mannered and 'eared', its profile following the lines of the decorative moulded plaster swag, above which is a necked central section with entablature surmounted by a moulded semi-circular gable cap. The front windows and door are contemporary with the house, the four full sashes small-paned but without fixed transoms. [Fransen 2004:462 (extended): SHA, 2018: 70 (Entry 97).]

These notes were last edited on 2021 09 23

Writings about this entry

De Bosdari, C. 1953. Cape Dutch Houses and Farms, their architecture and history. Cape Town / Amsterdam: AA Balkema. pg 99
Fransen, Hans. 2004. The old buildings of the Cape. A survey of extant architecture from before c1910 in the area of Cape Town - Calvinia - Colesberg - Uitenhage. Johannesburg & Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers. pg 462
Swellendam Heritage Association. 2018. Treasures of Swellendam. Swellendam: Swellendam Heritage Association. pg 70 (entry 97)