Last weekend Thorsten and I visited Dolobran, one of Joburg’s oldest, quirkiest, and most mysterious mansions, on a tour with the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation (JHF). Dolobran is unique among Joburg’s “Randlord” mansions (other examples of which include Villa Arcadia and the View) in that it’s privately owned, still occupied by descendants of the original owners, and almost never open to the public. Saturday’s tour was open only to JHF members and photography wasn’t allowed inside.
Dolobran, on Jubilee Road in Parktown, was built in 1905 by architect James Cope-Christie for a wealthy (and flamboyant, at least in his architectural/design taste) accountant named Llewellyn Andersson. The inside of the house is spectacularly insane — completely over the top, stuffed with original antiques from the early 1900s — and has the most beautiful stained glass windows I’ve ever seen in a private home.
I was devastated that I wasn’t able to take indoor photos, and wasn’t sure it was worth writing this blog post without them. But luckily sketching inside was allowed (or at least not explicitly forbidden), and I have Thorsten’s pen-and-ink interpretation of the entry hall.
Joburg historian Lucille Davie wrote a brilliant and comprehensive story about Dolobran with everything you need to know, including the interesting story of how Andersson rejected star architect Herbert Baker’s original plans and chose Cope-Christie to design the house instead. Please read that article if you want to learn more. In the meantime, here are a few more (outdoor) photos and sketches.
If you want to see the inside of Dolobran with your own eyes (trust me, you do), I highly recommend joining JHF so you’ll be ready for the next members-only tour, whenever it happens. An annual membership only costs a few hundred rand per year and you’ll receive access to several members-only tours like this one, as well as discounts on the regular general-public tours. Also you’ll be helping to preserve Joburg’s heritage. (FYI, I pay for my own JHF membership. This post is #NotSponsored!)
See you on the next tour.