Areas and Places

Rare JHB architectural gem on the market

The Cullinan House in Upper Houghton is for sale through the Chas Everitt International Luxury Portfolio division for R9,998m.

As the only remaining example of an Art Nouveau residence in Johannesburg, The Cullinan House has an impressive lineage and is one of the city’s most precious architectural treasures.

However, it is privately-owned, and has just been listed for sale by the Chas Everitt Luxury Portfolio Division, whose CEO Rory O’Hagan says it is expected to attract competing offers from several serious buyers. The asking price is R9,998m.

“Situated in Upper Houghton, this fully-restored gem is a wonderful reminder of the early history of Johannesburg, when wealthy merchants, professionals and the Randlords who controlled the gold mines vied with each other to build the grandest houses in the most fashionable styles,” he says.

“Indeed, Upper Houghton was initially opened up as a residential area by Barney Barnato’s Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Company, and The Cullinan House itself was built in 1910 by Sir Thomas Cullinan of Premier Mine and Cullinan Diamond fame, for his brother-in-law and business partner Joseph Mitchell.”

The house was designed by Robert Howden, who later became first president of the Institute of South African Architects, and has an imposing classic-revivalist exterior featuring bronze and white brick accents, sandstone architraves and symmetrical pediments.

The interior, which has also been carefully restored over the past three years by current owners Lawson Ricketts and Nick Geimer, boasts a grand staircase and many Art Nouveau hallmarks such as green-glazed wall tiles and stained-glass windows with bold floral and other curved motifs.

“Some modernisation of the kitchen and bathrooms was required, and the ceramic floor was in such a poor state in some areas that we had to make the painful decision to pull it up and replace it,” says Ricketts, who bought the house even though it was in a state of neglect at the time.”

“We also had to remove an out-of-character patio and pool-deck, but our renovations were all done in consultation with the Parktown-Westcliff Hertitage Trust, and the designs and décor, including the wallpapers, paint colours, lighting and furnishings, are all true to the heritage of the property.”

O’Hagan notes that the gardens have also been extensively cleared, re-landscaped and manicured to provide a properly elegant setting for the house, which has an enviable, secure location on a quiet street in one of Johannesburg’s most sought-after suburbs

“It is also situated between some of the most prestigious schools in Johannesburg, including St John’s, Roedean and King Edwards, as well as within easy reach of the highway network, and thus provides a unique and irreplaceable value proposition.”