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President Pretorius Museum
Potchefstroom, North West

Johan DE RIDDER: Design Architect 1980 restoration
JOHAN DE RIDDER ARCHITECT: Architect 1980 restoration

Date:1868 : 1980
Client:MW Pretorius
Street:van der Hoff Avenue


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26°41'48.97" S 27°05'54.16" E Alt: 1344m

House of President MW Pretorius - President Pretorius Museum.

In the course of the second half of the nineteenth century Marthinus Wessel Pretorius played a very important role in the history of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek and the Republic of the Orange Free State After the death of his father, A W J Pretorius, in 1853 he was appointed as commandant-general of Rustenburg and Potchefstroom in his place. In 1857 he was elected as the first President of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek. With a view to closer union between the two Boer Republics he also accepted the presidency of the Orange Free State in 1860. Because of this he was obliged to resign as president of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek but in 1864 he was elected President of the Z.A.R. for the second time and he held this office till 1871. Shortly before the outbreak of the First War of Independence in 1881 he became a member of the Triumvirate who were in office during the war.

He lived at Potchefstroom for the greater part of his life and had his residence built in 1868. Not before January, 1894, did he sell this house to a certain J. C. Bodenstein. Bronze Plaque 1961

(Oberholster, 1972: 309-10)

"The President Pretorius Museum in Potchefstroom (built in 1868), home to the first President of the then Zuid Afrikaans Republic, Pres. Marthinus Wessel Pretorius, has been restored and declared a National Monument in 1979, leaving a tangible memory of the life and times of President MW Pretorius in Potchefstroom. The building has a distinctive and recognisable architectural style known as traditional Cape-Dutch Architecture. The Cape-Dutch style is characterised by long horizontal structures, white plaster walls, dormer windows with large timber sash cottage panes, thatched roofs and green detailing seen on the doors and windows. The entire property consists of a 1,323-hectare land with the original but restored residence, a wagon house and stables, and a smithy.

Not only does the building and out-buildings represent the traditional Cape-Dutch architectural style, it also brings to mind an Urban Boer culture that was intricately woven into the fabric of small town life in the 1800s, commensurate with the idea of tranquillity of a farmyard surrounding this beautiful homestead. Although this Urban Boer culture has long since disappeared in the now much more modern-day semi city environment with a vibrant academic and student culture, there is no doubt as to the value if this museum as contributor to the original white South African identity."

(Caerie Bothma, 2021)

The complex was declared a National Monument in 1979 and the buildings were restored and officially opened on 30 May 1980 as the President Pretorius Museum.

(Lennie Gouws, accessed 2021 08 18)

These notes were last edited on 2021 08 18

Writings about this entry

Oberholster, JJ. 1972. The historical monuments of South Africa. Cape Town: Rembrandt Van Rijn Foundation for Culture at the request of the National Monuments Council. pg 309-310