oa South African Journal of Cultural History - Sosiale lewe in Bloemfontein se Derde Presidensie, 1886-1900

Volume 12, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-3053



Bloemfontein's well-known Old Presidency Museum, situated in President Brand Street was the third presidential residence to be erected on the site. The imposing Third Presidency, completed in 1886, was occupied by the last three presidents of the republic of the Orange Free State. namely J.IL Brand, F.W. Reitz and M.T. Steyn. As the official presidential residence the Presidency was the social centre of Bloemfontein between 1886 and 1900. Social life and interaction in the so-called Model Republic was informal, easy-going and sociable even at a high level. As a result, the President and his official residence were surprisingly accessible, even to the ordinary citizen. Occasionally receptions of a more formal nature were held at the Presidency, such as state banquets, balls and other functions. On certain festivals or remembrance days, e,g. the president', birthday and Independence Day, a large part of the celebrations would be held at the Presidency. The president's wife acted as hostess, supported by the presidential staff and servants. The social life at the Presidency had a predominantly English character, and Victorian customs were usually followed. Many important visitors, such as Cecil John Rhodes, Sir Alfred Milner and President Kruger visited the presidential residence. Some of them even stayed in the Presidency during their visit to Bloemfontein. The Anglo Boer War and the British occupation of Bloemfontein in March 1900 ended the Free State presidential pair's busy social life.

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