Heritage Sites – Windy Brow

 

Built in mid 1890’s, just a few years after the Cullinan house was built, this house was in the Old Transvaal area we now know as Hillbrow. A theatre was built on the same property, but next door to the Windy Brow in the 1970’s, turning it into a community centre. The Windy brow Heritage building was used as dressing rooms for the actors and storage for the stage props.

In 2012, an extensive project got on its way to save the building from imminent destruction due to sewage and rain waters getting in under the foundation. Due to the fact that the building was never maintained and is build of 70% timber and 30% red face brick and stone, it became a mammoth undertaking. The biggest feat was to get qualified and capable contractors on site.

The existing timber structure had been left to decay over the years, so it had to be stripped down to the original timber and then restored. Whatever timber could not be restored had to be replaced. As in every heritage building, cutters were made from the original shapes and moulds of the building, to keep it as close to authentic as possible. Even though the Heritage buildings we find scattered around South Africa were built around the same time, the building materials were sourced and manufactured in England, then shipped over to South Africa.

 

Often manufactured by different carpenters in different factories and in different areas of the country, therefore even if the style was similar to the eye, the profiles on the timber often varied. Hence the reason to manufacture new cutters with each new house we restore.

Each Heritage House has its own challenges with the slightly different styles and taste of each owner often found in the carvings. The windy Brow has agnate carved timber gables and timber statues meeting you as you ascend the main staircase. The windows we lead lined with stain glass. Every piece of glass shipped in at the same time as the window frames. 120 year old glass is not available in today’s market, so the broken and damaged windows have to be stripped down, piece by piece.

Any original glass is then re-used to repair the windows most seen and the windows that have given up their original pieces are then repaired using similar glass available to us. If glass cannot be found to match the original glass in colour or rendering, then glass gets manufactured. The same goes with the timber items in the house. The timber ceilings, columns, floor beams are all stripped of any rotten decay and then repaired.