When our children were still in school they formed a band and, as you know, a band needs to practice. When you grow up in a house that is your home as well as a guest house that proves to be a problem. Our children's solution was to claim a small storeroom below the swimming pool as their little music den. They called it Shanty 21. I asked Alex: 'why 21?' and he answered: ' every abode needs a number...' I suppose when you are 16 years old 21 sounds like a grand number to be. Shanty was kitted out with seating - discarded rickety chairs, logs covered with old carpets, lots of candles and cobwebs for ambiance - the perfect music den. The words 'herein lie the sound of music' were added next to the crude signage of 'Shanty 21'.
In Summer of 2013 we decided to restore 'Shanty 21' and use it as a small guest room for single occupancy, but let us start at the beginning:
We bought Fairview in 1994 and took up the challenge to restore this historic George landmark. People often express their surprise that we had the property listed immediately after we bought it. There is a general misconception that when you buy a heritage property (listed or unlisted) you will not be allowed to alter your home or to add modern conveniences.
I recently found the old Garden And Home Magazine (October 1998) with the article of our house - talk about a blast from the past:
Romancing an era - a long-neglected historic George House gets a make-over...
Because it was partly hidden behind high boundary walls, the true beauty of Fairview only became obvious once I drove through the new gates. Then the regal proportions and straight-lined design of the double storey dwelling, circa 1861, could be properly viewed.
In March 2008 we had as guest the granddaughter of one of the Stander daughters. She sent me a poem written by her grand-mother. On weekends the daughters would stroll down to the Kat River and obviously, the young Maria met a young man from the other side of the river whom her parents did not approve of.
In The Oudtshoorn Courant and Het Suid-Western on Wednesday, September 27, 1978, Brenda Hartdegen reported:
GEORGE: A magnificent leather-bound 260-year-old Bible was sold for R535 after brisk bidding at an auction of mostly antique furniture. The Bible was bought by a Cape Town dealer, Mr. H A Lammers, who flew to George especially to attend the sale. And he is confident that he will sell it immediately to one of several Dutch dealers who are out in South Africa from Holland to buy up all the Dutch antiques they can find.
Antiques in Holland have become very scarce and the dealers have now turned their attention to South Arica which is still regarded as a rich field for many Dutch antiques.
As the once proud owner of a 1958 Volkswagen and belonging to the local Old Car Club, I am forever encouraging guests to visit the local Railway Museum just up the road, where private vintage car owners can display/store their vehicles amongst the Railway exhibitions. I chanced upon the following passage in the delightful book by Victor Smith called 'Open Cockpit over Africa' in which he tells of his adventures flying more than 13 000 miles from George to London and back. Arriving back in George he was welcomed back as a hero by the locals. (Fairview is, of course, the Mayoral home mentioned...)
Uncle Jack Smith (JK), who had once claimed expenses from the tax-man for 'lubrication of the best machine in the factory' (brandy for himself), arrived in great style in his new six-cylinder Studebaker. But, despite his weakness, never let it be said that uncle Jack was not a man of his word. I think the reader will agree when he or she reads the story which I will now have to tell.
George wat nie veel geskiedkundige argitektuur het om mee te spog nie, kan gelukkig nou tog groots wees op die Kaapse Georgiaanse styl woning, Fairview wat met groot sorg en toewyding gerestoureer is deur die huidige eienaars, Mev Philda en Dr Desmond Benkenstein.
Alhowel reeds in 1841 tot stand gekom het, is meeste van die dorp se karaktervolle en geskiedkundige huise gesloop. Fairview wat terugdateer na 1861, dien vandag as 'n gesinswoning en as smaakvolle ingerigte gastehuis. Die gasteboek getuig daarvan dat toeriste vanoor die wêreld dit 'n verruklike ondervinding gevind het om hier tuis te gaan.