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Kruger House: The legends live on

Paul Kruger house heritage month day September 2020 South African history
Kruger on the southern side of the dwelling between the two lion statues

One of the unique aspects of the Kruger House relates to its location west of Church Square. The location does not reflect the preference of residences of the well-to-do and influential individuals during the time of President Kruger. Other prominent villa-type residences of this period (1880-1889) were characterised by similar architectural characteristics (as first proposed by the Claridge design), such as turrets, multiple storeys and with richly decorated interiors. The most significant of these were all located east of Church Square in Jacob Maré Street (defining the southern boundary of Burghers Park) in an area noted for its more stylish proprietors, such as Barton Keep (the residence of Thomas Bourke), Hollard House, Melrose House (of George Heyes) and Parkzicht (owned by Advocate Kleyn). Residents of Pretoria often wonder why Kruger selected this location. Several reasons for selecting this property come to mind. Kruger owned several properties at this location, which he sold. The last of these is the site where his residence is located. These were his personal properties and were not purchased for the erection of a presidency. The use of the site and the dwelling at this location, for the presidency, was almost incidental, but is also an indication of Kruger’s personality probably seeing no need for the existence of a personal abode and a separate presidency.
     Another unique aspect of the dwelling is its orientation, with its principal façade and entrance towards the south. This elevation eventually became the most photographed side of the dwelling, often with Kruger sitting in a chair conversing with someone. The front or southern veranda became a place where Kruger extended his official duties and it is suggested by several authors that many negotiations of a political and business nature happened here. The orientation of the dwelling was probably not a decision influenced by Kruger but by the simple fact that the house had to be arranged on the erf in such a way that it faced toward Church Street. Church Street was the principal arterial linking the dwelling with Church Square and the Old Raadzaal (Old Council Hall) on the Square. Dwellings and businesses were oriented towards the street irrespective of the north-south orientation.

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