Post Office building, Rissik street, Johannesburg

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GISKEY (Input giskey if applicable)
Condition  under threat
Date of origin  1897
Previous names n/a
Place  Post office building
Street  40 Rissik street, coners of President street and Market street
Town  Johannesburg
Magisterial district  Johannesburg
Province  Gauteng
Country  South Africa
GPS coordinates  26 12'15.80"S 28 02'32.09"E
Planning authority name  Johannesburg Metropolitan Area
Architect/Firm  Styze Wierda
Project architect/Designer  Styze Wierda
Commissioning owner  Government of the time
Current owner  Johannesburg Metropolitan Area
Current occupant  Unoccupied
Previous uses  Post office
Current use  None
Classification/Typology  
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Contents

Significance

The post office in Rissik Street is the only work of  Styza Wierda in Johannesburg.  This post Office was also the very first government building built in Johannesburg and is over a 100 years old.  The post office stood as an icon for many, being used in postcards and light up for special ocations. (as seen in photo's) The building was named after Johan Rissik, the first Administrator of the Transvaal who was resposible for most of the survying of the Randjeslaagte. (Map of Randjeslaagte in images)  


History

In 1887 the building was a one story building and the Post Office occupied only one wing of the building. In only a few years the Post Office took over the whole building from its addmistrative purposes. In 1897 the building was demolished and the Post office as we know it today was built. The foundation of the current building was built by the Postmaster-General, Isaac va Alphen and builder C.A Meischke.  After only seven years, a second story had to be added to comply with demand from the growing town. The bell tower was replaced by the clock tower, a reflection to the change in time.


Current known heritage status

The building was declared a national monument in 1978 but was neglected by the Post Office. The Post Office got evicted in 1996. At the same time the relocation of the provincial government from Pretoria to Johannesburg was taking place and was to settle into this building. This unfortunately did not happen and has left the building abandoned ever since. With a lot of potential remedies for the use and upgrade for the building falling through and two fires in 3 months in 2010 this building has seen it all!


A two phase restoration started in 2010 but no evidence is apparent today, 2012.
 

Description of site and/or structures and/or interior spaces

This building is a mix of styles, namely, Renaissance with a touch of French and Dutch. The European influences reflects Weirda’s heritage. The first floor is set in grey plaster and second and third in a deep rich red brick. Rounded arch windows on the first floor and bay windows in the main axis and two secondary axis. Sunken elevation consists of rectangular windows. A sense on Renaissance is created by the symmetry of the windows and the rhythm created by the repetition. An Entrance portico offsets the building over the pavement.
 

 Architect

Styza Wierda was a Dutch born architect that did numerous projects in South Africa, several which he did the design of. Born on 28 February 1839, in Hemrik, Wierda moved to South Africa in 1881.
He started out as a carpenter coming from a working class family working, his way up to a clerk  in Europe. On a visit to Europe in the 1880, Paul Kruger was inspired by the grandness of the building and wanted to recreate this in South Africa. He hired Weirda to design buildings that will stand testimony to the power of the government of that time. Weirda got the position of Government Engineer and Architect in South Africa. He assumed office on the 1 November 1887 and was the architect for the Government building, ‘Raadsaal’, in Pretoria and the Palace of Justice.
He was also responsible for the design of transport facilities, with the railway knowledge Wierda had gained in Amsterdam. Today, many of Wierda work is proclaimed historical monuments and is testimony  to Wierda’s talent. 
 

Sources

www.joburgnews.co.za/nov_2002/nov22_po.stm
article: Rissik Street Post Office , a sad sight. Author: Lucille Davie    22 November 2002

www.iolproperty.co.za/roller/news/entry/restoration_of_joburg_s_rissik
Article: Restoration of Joburg's Rissik Street post office takes off.  Author: Editor in cities and towns 23 Augustus 2010

www.joburg.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=291&Itemid=51#ixzz1vWHMfL3Y
Article: Joburg’s oldest buildings.   Autor: Lucille Davie    21 February 2003
 


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Norwich, O.I. 1986, A Johannesburg Album. Historical postcards, Creda press (PTY) LTD, Cape Town

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Brodie, N. 2008, The Joburg book, Sharp Sharp Media, Johannesburg.

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Hughes, L. 1983, Johannesburg. The cosmopolitan city, Delta book (PTY) LTD, Johannesburg<o:p></o:p>

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Photos

First post office with market square in foreground

Old post office with full view of market square

Old post office in 1889 with Market square in front.

old post office with trams going by

Post office as it was originaly built in 1897

Post office with first additions in making

Post office second revamp to towers

Post office building post card 7.jpg

Post office as we know it today.

Coronation light put up for king George VI

Post office tower in 1980.jpg

Map of Johannesburg.jpg

Post office corner of president and rissik.jpg

Post office towers 2012.jpg

Post office corner of market and rissik.jpg

Facade from market street.jpg

Facade from joubert street.jpg

Facade from precident street.jpg


First floor plan

Elevation

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