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Kruger House Museum, Pretoria

kruger house museum pretoriaThe Kruger house is a house museum, i.e. it attempts to recreate the ambience of a historic period, event or person. The house has been refurbished to look almost as it did at the time when President Paul and Mrs Gezina Kruger's lived there. This was the last house in which President Paul Kruger was to live, between 1883 and 1901, before he left South Africa to go into exile in Europe. The Kruger House Museum lies just a few blocks from Church square, where his bronze statue takes centre stage facing the Palace of Justice.

An almost total historic environment has been recreated. Visitors to Kruger House should feel as though the President or Mrs Kruger might return at any moment. The furnishing plan has been based on a thorough study of the available evidence of original furnishings. In accordance with this several changes have recently been made to the interior, not as a curatorial whim, but with a view to give the visitor a more accurate conception of the life style of the Krugers.

The house was built in 1884, the architect being Tom Claridge from the Orange Free State and the builder Charles Clark, from Pretoria. Milk instead of water was used for mixing the cement, because at that time the cement was of poor quality. It was one of the first homes in Pretoria to be lit by electricity. The unusual brass switches, of German make and marked Dunkel-Licht, are said to be those installed originally. They were manufactured by Siemens & Schuckert and probably installed by them.

The ceiling in the President's reception room has been redecorated in its original white and gold colours. The carpet in the President's reception room is similar to that which covered the floor in Kruger's day. The present carpet was woven in 1974 (previous one 1933) by the same London company that supplied the original. The lions on the verandah were given to Kruger by Barney Barnato, the mining magnate, as a birthday present in 1896.

Paul Kruger was State President of the South African Republic and was renowned internationally for his struggle for freedom from the British during the Second Boer War (1899 - 1902). Both the Kruger National Park and the Krugerrand coin are named after him, and today pipe manufacturers continue to produce a style called ‘Oom Paul’, that is similar to the large-bowled, full-bent shape of the pipe with which he was so often portrayed in photographs. Interestingly, the hat he wore on his voyage to Europe is today displayed at the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands.


 

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