Post Office building, Rissik street, Johannesburg
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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)
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.
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.
article: Rissik Street Post Office , a sad sight. Author: Lucille Davie 22 November 2002
Article: Restoration of Joburg's Rissik Street post office takes off. Author: Editor in cities and towns 23 Augustus 2010
Article: Joburg’s oldest buildings. Autor: Lucille Davie 21 February 2003
Norwich, O.I. 1986, A Johannesburg Album. Historical postcards, Creda press (PTY) LTD, Cape Town
Brodie, N. 2008, The Joburg book, Sharp Sharp Media, Johannesburg.
Hughes, L. 1983, Johannesburg. The cosmopolitan city, Delta book (PTY) LTD, Johannesburg<o:p></o:p>