A piece of Hout Bay history sold

The 1715 Kronendal farm house was added to in the 1800s.

Kronendal, which was built in 1715 and is believed to be the oldest farmhouse in Hout Bay, has been sold for over the asking price of R22 million.

Estate agent Lola Kramer made the sale in May. This after it had been through the hands of several other estate agents.

Ms Kramer would not divulge the names of the new owners but said they paid more than the asking price because they see the property as a good investment with its many tenants and heritage status. She did not divulge how much more they paid.

Speaking on behalf Deus Ex Machina – the previous owner of the building and Dues Café – Tim Harbich said they had tried to sell the property themselves. They had decided to sell because the company was restructuring its assets in South Africa, he said.

Prior to Deus Ex Machina, the property was owned by a German, whose wife ran Katinka’s Thai restaurant. It was then vacant for two years until Deus Ex Machina breathed new life into it at the end of 2019.

The office park at the rear has several non-historic buildings that house Sealand Campus, CrossFit Gym, a physiotherapist, a barber and a fibre company.

Dean Scott, retail manager of Sealand Campus, said they had recently met the new Russian owners, a father and his two daughters. He said they do not speak English very well.

Sentinel has tried to contact the owners through the tenants and Mr Harbich over the past two weeks, but they did not respond.

Hout Bay Museum said the first farm in the area was established in the 1670s at Kronendal. The farmhouse was granted to Matthys Bergstedt in 1715 and in the 1800s, Johannes van Hesdingen added the front section to the house.

According to Hout Bay: An Illustrated Historical Profile, by Tony Westby-Nunn, the homestead became a restaurant in 1966 and then home to Sotheby’s International Realty in 2003.

The doors, windows and floors are original and there is some yellowwood panelling.

Heritage Western Cape CEO Michael Janse van Rensburg said the property is protected under the National Heritage Resources Act and any alterations or additions proposed to it would need permits from the heritage authority.

In the 1950s, the homestead was threatened by council plans to widen the road, but the building was saved when it was declared a national monument in 1961.

At the rear of the homestead are the remains of a bell tower. The bell is in the Castle of Good Hope in the William Fehr Collection.

The homestead is also home to resident ghost Elsa Cloete. The story goes that the first person to see her was a visitor from England on Tuesday December 15, 1999. According to Westby-Nunn’s book, she was dressed in a blue top with a grey pinafore and a bonnet. The same day, a woman felt her presence as candles on her table kept falling off.

According to Hout Bay Museum, Elsa lived in the homestead in the mid-1800s and fell in love with a British soldier. Her father banned her from seeing her soldier beau and so he hanged himself from a tree on the property. Elsa died shortly after, reportedly of a broken heart.

Michael Kadimu, a waiter at the restaurant, said he saw Elsa’s image in the mirror of the men’s bathroom on Thursday August 10 and he often heard her whispering.

Ms Kramer said the new owners are aware of the ghost and would continue the tradition of setting a table for her.

“After all, they bought a piece of history, the property is authentic,” she said.

A picture of Kronendal homestead from Hout Bay: An Illustrated Historical Profile by Tony Westby-Nunn.
Picture from Hout Bay: An Illustrated Historical Profile by Tony Westby-Nunn, showing kronendal homestead prior to Hout Bay Main Road.
Michael Kadimu, a waiter at the restaurant said he saw Elsa’s image in the mirror of the men’s bathroom
A picture inside the restaurant shows the remains of a bell tower behind the homestead. The bell is in the Castle of Good Hope in the William Fehr Collection.
Lola Kramer, who sold the property, said the new owners are aware of the ghost and will continue the tradition of setting a table for her.
Behind the homestead are several non-historic buildings that house various businesses.