Doornfontein is a Suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa, and is located just to the East of the City Centre. The Area of Doornfontein, which means thorn fountain, was originally the southern part of a Farm owned by Frederick Jacobus Bezuidenhout, and was proclaimed a public diggings after the Discovery of Gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886. In the late 1880's, Thomas Yeo laid out the Suburb, which became the first Residential Suburb of Johannesburg. In 1897, the freehold of the Suburb was bought by a Company owned by the 'Mining Magnate'- Barney Barnato, and the District became known as 'Millionaires Row'. Shortly after the Anglo-Boer War this changed as many of the wealthier Residents moved north to Parktown, and Doornfontein became Home to a large number of Jewish Immigrants. During the Great Depression large parts of Doornfontein were bought up by Property Speculators and turned into slum Housing or Yards. These Areas were cleared in the mid 1930s and became Light Industrial Manufacturing Areas. Large Areas of the Suburb are now occupied by the Technikon Witwatersrand, which is now a part of the University of Johannesburg, Ellis Park Stadium and Johannesburg (Athletics) Stadium. The Johannesburg, Meeting House of the Religious Society of Friends- Quakers, has been situated at 3 Gordon Terrace since the late 1950s. The Area has undergone substantial Transport Renewal in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in Soccer, most noticeably with the introduction of a key route of the Rapid Transit Bus System.
On the very edge of old Doornfontein running North to South is End Street – so called because that was literally where Town ended. What was to become Doornfontein on the right was then just grazing land. The top part of End Street running from the Railway Line right up to Saratoga and what we now know as Nugget Hill was known as End Park. It’s the triangular collection of blocks to the left of the yellow line and was granted freehold status on condition it was ‘used for purposes incidental to and connected with the amusement and recreation of the inhabitants of the Town’. In 1894 is had 3 tennis courts. Just north of Beit Street across the road from Norman house was a Flower Ppark, known as Doornfontein Park.
Norman House, stood in End Street with its entrance on Davies Street. Some sources indicated that it was built by John Dale Lace. Others say Barney Barnato lived there in 1897 with John Dale Lace purchasing the Mansion later. A report by the JDA says “The extant mansion called Norman House (Dale Lace House or Norman Nursing Home) opposite Doornfontein Park and adjacent to the Irene Church with its front entrance on End Street, was Built in 1893, by the JCI for its Founding Member Barney Barnato. This later became the residence, albeit for a short while, of José and John Dale Lace.” The report is dated May 2005 and the home was demolished sometime between 2005 and 2013. It became the Norman Nursing Home and the Dale Lace House for senior citizens in the last few years of its life. During the Lace’s time in the House, it was regarded as the perfect Upmarket Johannesburg Home. It was said to have a Bath, that at a touch of a button, would ‘slide into the Bedroom for added convenience’. Mr Lace demonstrated this one day to a group of friends while his Wife Josie Lace, was still in the bath. The Visitors were evidently impressed.
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