Bosmanstraat Kerk (Groote Kerk), C/o Bosman and Madiba Streets, Pretoria City Centre, Tshwane

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Date of origin
11 May 1903
Previous names
Groote Kerk
Pretoria City Centre
Corner Bosman & Madiba (formerly Vermeulen) Streets
Magisterial district
South Africa
GPS coordinates
25º44'43.83"S, 28º11'06.59"E
Planning authority name
City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality
Van Rijsse, Kraan & Weiers
Project architect/Designer
Van Rijsse, Kraan & Weiers
Commissioning owner
Nederduitsch Gereformeerde Kerk
Current owner
Melodi Ya Tshwane congregation & NG congregation Pretoria
Current occupant
NG congregation Pretoria
Previous uses
Current use
Dutch Reformed Church
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[edit] Significance

The Groote Kerk is a landmark that has a visual and historical connection to church Square. The building is one of the finest Dutch Reformed Churches of its era in the country. The church was the first to be built in the newly established Pretoria in the style of the state. The state saw the building as a symbol of the state’s religion, and also served as a symbol of power where many ways of thinking were united with religion. As the first Dutch Reformed congregation in Pretoria, the building had a significant influence on the early twentieth century architecture of Pretoria, not only concerning the style but also the artistic value.

[edit] Current known heritage status

Grade 2 (Provincial Heritage Resource).

[edit] Known interested and affected parties

[edit] History

The foundation stone was laid by Louis Botha in 1903 and was completed in 1905 when it replaced the church in church square. The Groote Kerk in Bosman street was designed by Van Rijsse, Kraan and Weiers in collaboration and G. Dorlas was the assigned contractor. This building is one of the first churches to be built in Pretoria. Many congregations succeeded this Dutch Reformed church. It is one of the oldest buildings in Pretoria and therefore was declared as national monument. The building was taken into use when the 80-year-old Andrew Murray made an inaugural speech on 30 September 1904. The organ, donated by the brothers D and J Erasmus, was inaugurated by Professor P.K. de Villiers and organist W. van Oosten. The organ was rebuilt at a later stage and has since been sold to the University of Pretoria. The pulpit was donated by the widower of general P.J. Joubert. There are three suspended old bells in the church of which only one is still being used. On 10 June 1950, the building was inaugurated again after the outside brick layer was replaced. On 30 March 1947, the Royal Family, accompanied by general J.C. Smuts, attended the morning service. General Louis Botha, general J.C. Smuts and Dr J.G. Jansen’s funerals were held at the church. With the accession of D.F. Malan in 1948, he and his whole cabinet attended a devotion service in this church. In 1961 the first state president of the Republic of South Africa, C.R. Swart, and later also state president, B.J. Vorster, were inaugurated in this building. On 29 August 1980, by a proclamation in the state newspaper, the building was declared a National Monument.

[edit] Description of site and/or structures and/or interior spaces

The building is neatly fenced and placed prominently with an articulated spire on the street corner. Face brick bands and buttresses rest on the stone plinth above which red face brick and plaster bands are alternated with sandstone insets. Wooden Roman arched windows are alternated with port-hole shutters. An additional spire in the south creates the idea of a basilica. Gable ends to the streets are crowned with carved sandstone work. The design typifies the rationalisation of the Flemish-Renaissance style. The Art Nouveau and Victorian style are combined in the highest decorated spire of the tower. The current gutter outlets (a later addition) violate the proportional design. The church is flamboyant above the roof-line, austere below and typically republican. Although the body of the church is mostly austere, the proportions are good and the solid mass is interesting as a shape, offsetting the exuberant but delicate spire. The spire of “Russian orthodox spectacular” descends by way of Venetian campanile to “Netherlands-Gothic”, the red brick and ochre of the main building. The roof is well supplied with air vents. At the farther corner from the spire, is a lower dome bearing a modified version of the details and decorations that adorn the spire.

[edit] Links

[edit] Sources

PICTION-SEYMOUR, D. 1977. Victorian buildings in South Africa : including Edwardian and Transvaal Republican styles 1850-1910. Cape Town : Balkema (A.A.).
LE ROUX, S. & BOTES, N. 1993. Plekke en geboue van Pretoria : 'n oorsig van hulle argitektoniese en stedelike belang. Pretoria:Stadsraad van Pretoria.
[Online] Available: <> [Accessed 15 August 2010]

Documents in Department of Architecture archive, University of Pretoria. 00105

[edit] Photos

Figure 1: Groote Kerk Bosman Street
Figure 2: Groote Kerk: north elevation
Figure 3: Memorial for Dr HS Bosman
Figure 4: Foundation stone laid by Louis Botha
Figure 5: Groote Kerk
Figure 6: Groote Kerk Interior view
Figure 7: Groote Kerk pulpit
Figure 8: Groote Kerk tower staircase

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