Kimberley is an architectural gem and it is difficult to remember that the city grew up around a great big hole in the ground. Starting out as a shanty and frontier town resembling the towns of the American Wild West, it quickly bloomed into a city where majestic Victorian buildings echo bygone days. Today modern high-rise buildings stand like sentinels over these jewels of the past.
The city Hall was designed by F Carstairs Rogers in Roman Corinthian style and built in 1899 of burnt brick faced with cement plaster. It was completed just before the start of the Anglo-Boer War and was used as a distribution point for rations and ration tickets during the hostilities.
A reflection of Edwardian elegance, this distinguished home was built in 1897 and belonged to John Orr (of department store fame) and his family. It is now part of the McGregor Museum.
Rumour has it that more millionaires gathered under the roof of the Kimberley Club than under any roof in the world! Established in 1881, the most famous members of the club were people like Cecil John Rhodes, Leander Starr Jameson (who led the Jameson raid in Transvaal), Charles Dunnell Rudd, Barney Barnato, Sir Ernest Oppenheimer and his son Harry Oppenheimer.
The original Alexandersfontein Hotel was a simple structure, situated on the old main road to the Cape and occupied by Boer forces during the siege.
At Rhodes’s instigation this was replaced in 1902 by a luxury hotel which served also as weekend resort for the wealthier inhabitants of Kimberley and Beaconsfield. Once one of the country’s three finest hotels, it is now used by the SA National Defence as the Jack Hindon Officers’ Club.
De Beers Head Office
This building, now a national monument and originally the headquarters of Barney Barnato’s Kimberley Central Diamond Mining Company, houses the international headquarters of the De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd, which was established in 1888 by Rhodes.
Owned by CD Rudd, one of the early mining magnates, this rambling historical house was known as “The Bungalow”. It was acquired by the McGregor Museum for restoration and development as a period house reflecting the opulence and style of the diamond magnates.
7 Lodge Road
Built for Sir Ernest Oppenheimer in 1907, this is the house where Harry Oppenheimer was born. The Oppenheimers lived here till 1915 before moving to Johannesburg. With its wide veranda and burnt brick construction, it is typical of the finer houses of Kimberley dating from that era.