It was quite a challenge finding some history of the house as both the archives in Cape Town and Swellendam burned down over the years. However, there is some documentation proving that Schoone Oordt was in existence in 1748, but a very small pixelated picture shows 3 separate dwellings. These apparently burnt down (we’re trying not to see a pattern) and the basic structure of the downstairs of the house was built in 1853. It was home to the Anderson sisters who started the first girls school in Swellendam and both taught and lived there.
When the sisters retired to Suurbraak the property was handed to J.Z. Human, who added the upper storey, giving the building it’s beautifully proportioned Georgian front.
Towards the end of the century, Eli Buirski, mayor of Swellendam from 1915-1923, became owner and added the Victorian filigree-laced verandah thereby blending the two eras.
The house then passed through various owners, each adding or changing some aspects of the structure, until it was rescued from dilapidation in the late 60’s by Herman and Dulcie Moore. After two separate building teams literally threw in the trowel, Herman left the restoration of the house to Dulcie who drove up and down the main street each day looking for able bodies to roll wheelbarrows and swing sledgehammers. After two years, when the house was complete Herman fell ill and the family moved away to be closer to a hospital.
The house then acquired a new owner, the slightly eccentric school Headmaster of the time. Its grounds were declared a national monument in 1983 and was then owned by the local chemist, Danie Theron. The Theron family lived and worked there for over twenty years until Richard and Alison Walker purchased it in 2003. There is a lovely man called Adriaan Mocke who is somewhat of a patriarch of the town. He has wonderful stories, both of the house and of Swellendam. He is available for interesting historical tours, if you’re interested. Please book with Wander & Sonette.