Emmarentia is changing daily. Many houses are being renovated or extended. High walls are now the norm. But what did Emmarentia once look like?

Lourens Geldenhuys bought part of the farm Braamfontein in 1886. This huge farm originally stretched from Victory Park to Rosebank in the north, Killarney down to Commissioner Street in the east, Mayfair and Coronationville in the southwest and up to the base of Northcliff ridge. Lourens had three sons, two of whom, Frans, and Louw built farmhouses in our area.

The Marks Park Clubhouse on the slopes of Melville Koppies, originally the home of Frans Geldenhuys and Judith (Grobbelaar)

In 1891 Frans and Louw registered the subdivision of their farms, the boundary being Orange Road. Louw married Emmarentia Margaretha Botha and their farmhouse still stands in Greenhill Road.

The graves of some of the early residents of our area can be seen at the small cemetery in Hill Rd. Greenside was laid out in 1931, Emmarentia, in 1937 and Emmarentia Extension in 1945.

Emmarentia Dam was built mainly to provide work for landless farmers at the end of the Boer War in 1902. Big blocks of stone were taken from Melville Koppies for the dam wall.

The dam and an area of land to the west of the dam were part of an endowment from Geldenhuys to the City Council to be used as a park and for recreational purposes. In 1952 the area was named Jan van Riebeeck Park to celebrate the tri-centenary of van Riebeeck’s landing at the Cape in 1652.