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Showing posts from July, 2015

Ostrich Feather Palaces

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Oudsthoorn became known world-wide due to the ostrich feather industry.  From about 1860 it was high fashion for ladies to use ostrich feathers as decoration on their outfits.  Between 1900 and 1914 the price was unbelievable high and the farmers and merchants in Oudtshoorn reaped the rewards.
Numerous immigrants, particularly the Jews, were drawn to the “boom” town. Soon a rivalry started between the farmers and merchants to see who could build the most beautiful homes or “ostrich feather palaces”.  Beautiful homes were built with stained glass windows, cast-iron work (“broekielace”) and turrets. Here are a few of the ostrich palaces we found while walking in Oudtshoorn in Aug 2013:Le Roux House (46 High Street)

The house was built for JHJ le Roux.  It was designed by Charles Bullock and was built during 1909 and 1910.  It is now part ot the CP Nel Museum but the ouside of the building look terrible.  The museum was closed and we could not go inside to see if they take better care of is…

The Queen Street Synagogue, Oudtshoorn

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On our day trip to Oudshoorn we walk pass a beautiful stone building in Baron van Rheede Street.  The gate was open and we decided to take a closer look. 


We walk around the building to the other side and found that this was a Synagogue. 
In the beginning Jews whorshiped in private homes but by 1886 there was about 250 Jews in Oudtshoorn and the decition was made to build a Synagogue.  The plots and stones were donated and building commerced on 26 January 1888 and by December the Synagogue was inaugurated.


The first Hewbrew school in South Africa was established in Oudtshoorn in 1904.  Part of the building complex includes the school building.
The Queen Street Synagogue- Der Englishe Shul – is still in use today.

Information from the Jewish Community in Oudtshoorn’s website.