Graaff Reinet House Museum - Historical Heritage
Graaff-Reinet is a small town in the Eastern Cape, but with an impressive history behind it. This little picturesque town, is home to the extraordinary Reinet House Museum. The Graaff-Reinet Museum was originally built in 1811, as a Dutch Reformed Parsonage. The Cape Dutch architecture is perfectly depicted by the yellow wood floors, spacious rooms and high ceilings, and Cape architect Louis Thibault received high praise for this building. A wonderful example of the six gable H-shaped Cape Dutch style.
After the death of Reverend Andrew Murray in 1904, the Reinet House fell into disuse and disrepair. The Publicity Association bought the house in 1947, and started on repairing the house, which had also lost its gables. The assistance of architect Norman Eaton was brought in, to restore the buildings and begin, what was to be, the earliest restoration in the history of Graaff-Reinet. Reinet House Museum was fully restored into a cultural museum steeped in history. A fire in 1980, nearly threatened its existence yet again, but fortunately the building was restored and its contents saved.
Not only is the Reinet House Museum itself a point of interest, but the grounds have their own story to tell. The Reinet House Museum is part of four buildings which are home to The William Roe Photographic collection and Anglo Boer War artifacts, Urquart House with its farming equipment, The Lex Bremmer Fossil Collection and the Library. The Reinet House Museum also includes the Wagon House and the Mill House. Most famous, must be the Black Acorn Grape Vine. Believed to have been the biggest in the world with a circumference of 2,38m, and planted in 1870 by the Reverend Murray himself. The vineyard still bears fruit today, and locally brewed Witblitz, called Withond, is distilled here on an annual basis.
Walking through the Graaff-Reinett Museum, looking at the dolls that were made in World War I, hearing the boards groan under your weight, and the hollow sound of your footsteps on the wooden floors, almost makes you expect to see the Reverend Murray, entertaining his guests, David Livingstone and his father-in-law, Robert Moffat.