oa South African Journal of Cultural History - Sandklip en sandklipkerke in die Oranje-Vrystaat
The first churches of sandstone in the Orange Free State were built approximately 110 years ago. Presently there are still at least 50 of these beautiful buildings in the province. These buildings are important links in the cultural and historical life course of the relevant communities. Sandstone is an excellent building stone which gave shape to the church architecture of the Orange Free State. The church buildings are mostly in the Neo-Gothic style of building, which became established in South Africa via the Dutch and Anglican churches. The majority of church buildings were built in the Eastern and Northern Free State between 1879 and 1937. These regions are known for their sandstone of high quality. Stone masonry in the Orange Free State had its origin in certain towns in the Eastern districts in approximately 1854 when the Republic was established. The Dutch Reformed and English Church buildings are fine examples of excellent craftmanship, due mainly to the contributions of craftsmen from abroad. Attractive, high quality bricks, which were readily available and cheaper than sandstone, pushed aside sandstone as building material in about 1950. The approximately 300% higher building costs of sandstone and other impedements for instance the need for skilled stone dressers, transferred sandstone and its maintenance by skilled craftsmen outside the financial means of probably most church denominations. A restoration fund for church buildings of sandstone. provincially or nationally controlled, is apparently the only way to save existing buildings from demolition.
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