Located in President Brand Street, Bloemfontein, restoration of this ‘crown jewel’ of the Colonial architecture in the Free State was undertaken to serve as the Council Chamber of the Free State Legislature.
Its role as being the seat of government almost uninterruptedly since its completion in 1892, necessitates continuous maintenance, refurbishment and restoration of the structure. Due to a lack of maintenance, especially in gutters and downpipes, severe water damage to fragile ceilings, furniture and decorative elements had been incurred.
Through a 4-stage gathering of evidence, conservation goals were formulated and a conservation policy proposed, which contained a number of guidelines and restrictions inter alia that no structural changes to the building be allowed, that exterior surfaces, especially masonry, not be sealed.
Wood graining work where mechanical damage or rising damp had destroyed previous finishes, were restored and redone by specialists. Damaged furniture was repaired and restored, all surfaces redecorated, a special carpet made for the debating chamber and contemporary audio-visual equipment installed in an as unobtrusive manner as possible. General upgrading of the Members Lounge was also undertaken.
Externally, the stonework was cleaned comprehensively with high pressure water hoses by experienced specialists.
From this endeavour, the value of cultural capital, transcending different political dispensations is rather evident and fosters an appreciation for the nature of this type of architecture.