Historic Government House to be restored to ‘former glory’

2011-03-17 00:00

THE historic Government House, the core building of the University of South Africa (Unisa) campus at the top end of Langalibalele Street is being restored.

Work began last November and should be completed by September 2012.

The building began life as a five-roomed thatched cottage in the 1840s and was gradually rebuilt and added to over the years to create the building we see today.

It was home to the Lieutenant-Governors of Natal from 1845 until their role fell away with the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910.

In 1912 it was taken over by the Natal Training College and later housed the staff of the Natal College of Education.

It was the SA College of Open Learning until Unisa acquired the building in June 2010.

The building was also the setting for several significant moments in KwaZulu-Natal history, including the trial of Chief Langalibele of the Hlubi in the 1870s.

Many famous people have either visited or stayed under its roof, including Paul Kruger, Bishop John Colenso, Sir Garnet Wolseley, several members of the British royal family, and Winston Churchill.

Unisa decided to restore Government House to its former glory and the R20 million contract was awarded to GVK Siya Zama Building Contractors, who are in the final stages of restoring the Colonial Building in Church Street.

Restoration work has involved “opening up” the buildings to expose the many hidden problems that could previously only be assumed. This has revealed a number of building techniques, used between 1848 and 1970.

Construction manager Gordon Key said that GVK would approach the renovation as sensitively as possible.

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