Sunday, December 30, 2007

Places of Worship #6

Part of Richmond Hill was originally known as "The Location for Native Strangers" and was set aside in 1855 for the Khoi San and Mfengu workers who mostly worked on loading and unloading the ships at the fast growing Port. (Yup, I’m afraid the British Colonial Government established Apartheid long before the Nats actually gave it a name…..)

The London Missionary Society was granted the land, and set up a Chapel for these workers. They also allocated plots and rough houses were built on them. Many were beehive grass huts, others were wood and corrugated iron structures.

In front of the Chapel was the graveyard which we featured yesterday, divided into Catholic, Wesleyan and London Missionary Society sections. The Park opposite our house, which has often featured in our photos, was at that time the graveyard for the Mfengu and Khoi San workers.

There is a part of the suburb where, for 2 blocks, the houses are noticeably newer than the historic ones in the rest of the area. This is because in 1903 there was an outbreak of Bubonic Plague, which devastated this community. By this time, the Government had realised this was prime residential land close to all amenities, so the plague was used as an excuse to relocate the workers to Red location, so named because of the rusted corrugated iron used to build their homes.

Over the next few days, after the New Year Theme Day, we will feature some pictures of all this, including the Chapel, a surviving corrugated Iron house, a fascinating photo taken in 1903 of the burning of Strangers Location during the Plague, and the award winning Red location Museum, with some of the original shacks and buildings.

However today, we are showing you a fascinating old building, the Edward Street Synagogue, built on part of the land vacated by the removal of the location. It has distinct Art Nouveau details, but in a uniquely Israeli style. It was built for the Jewish tradesmen who moved into the area, but since the late 70s the Jewish population of Port Elizabeth has declined sharply, and this building is now used only rarely for services. It houses a Museum of Jewish History in PE, which we will also visit one of these days.

We need help to choose which photo to use for the January 1st Theme day! Thanks so much to those who have already done so. If you have a chance, and haven't seen the choices yet, please go to the slideshow and let us know in the comments there which one you like best. Thanks!


  1. Thanks for your visiting. I was reading your post about Richmond Hill with care and I'm waiting to see the photos of the next days. Have a new interesting year Sam.

  2. This is a beautiful building. All the buildings in your photos seem to be well-maintained and the surroundings clean. That is great.
    We have some very old buildings from British times but they are not maintained/cleaned properly. :(
    Thanks for your comments on my blog.

    Wish you all a Happy New Year!

  3. HDP sadly that is not entirely true. You will often see us mention an Irish slum lord who has bought up some of our most prized heritage sites, and ruined them, because if they are allowed to get beyond repair, the Council will have no choice but to demolish them and he will be able to use the prime land for new developments. His name is usually mentioned in this town in the same tone as people use when speaking of Satan!

  4. I think that's Hebrew on the building? I can see the Star of David too.

    The graveyard is divided? Lol!! I assume the souls will be going to the same place though!

  5. Beautiful building. Interesting post.

  6. web-oj....hehe you are so right! isn't segregation ridiculous! To make it worse, the black people had to be buried across on the other side of the hill(now the park opposite our house) and the Jewish population had to be buried right on the outer limits of the town beyond the toll gate!