For those who dream of owning the quintessential Cape home, there can be few architectural styles that match up to their aspirations more than a Cape Dutch manor house. The style is synonymous with the region, representing the gritty determination and hard work of early farmers as well as the warmth and character of a family homestead passed down through the generations. While many Cape Dutch style homes have been lost to urban development over the years, the Cape Winelands region still offers a high concentration of such properties, and particularly the Helderberg area. Pam Golding Properties (PGP) reports that Cape Dutch style homes remain among the most sought-after for family buyers in Somerset West who aspire to gracious living in a distinctive historic setting.
PGP’s area manager for the Helderberg region, Louise Varga, says the Cape Dutch style was prominent in South African architecture of the 17th century, during the early days of the Cape Colony. “It has its roots in a blend of European styles,” she says, “including medieval Dutch, German and French architecture as well Indonesian elements. Typical features have always include whitewashed walls and thatched roofs.”
Originally the typical layout was a single-storey home with three rooms – but as families grew more affluent by the 1800’s, floor plans became more elaborate and houses larger and more ornate. H- or T-shaped designs became the norm, while the ornate rounded front gable began to appear more and more frequently. Vergelegen in Somerset West is thought to be the oldest surviving example of the style, with its manor house dating back to the early 1700’s when Cape governor Willem Adriaan van der Stel first developed the property.
Today, Cape Dutch homes are highly prized among property buyers, with even modern replicas of the style appealing to those who want a unique home with historic character, heritage and olde worlde charm. The family-oriented lifestyle of the Somerset West area, with its sweeping mountain and ocean views and highly-rated schools, only adds to that appeal. PGP agents Natasha Wright and Thea Albertyn say suburbs such as Morningside and Nature’s Valley offer several examples, and while such properties seldom come onto the market, when they do, they tend to attract attention from far and wide, including international buyers. “Depending on the size, age, area and condition of the home, prices can vary quite significantly,” say the agents. “For example, in 2009 PGP sold a Cape Dutch property in Helderrand for R2.15 million, while a similar home in Briza fetched R3.9 million in 2010.”
PGP currently has several examples of Cape Dutch-style architecture on the market, including a three-bedroomed cottage in Morningside, bordering the sought-after Nature’s Valley area. Designed and built in 1975 by the current owners, the home has panoramic views of the Helderberg mountain and lies close to a number of historic sites including Lourensford and Vergelegen wine farms, as well as the modern Erinvale Golf Estate. The home is also well located to access Radloff Park, a popular local area for dog-walking and sports. Top-rated schools in the vicinity include Beaumont Primary, Parel Vallei and Somerset House, as well as the Happy Days pre-primary school. Notable features of the property include a full length patio shaded by a grape vine, as well as a private and fully-enclosed braai area. Occupying an erf of just under 1000sqm, the home is on the market at R1.85 million.