Montebello Historical Perspective

 

The Papenboom Estate

The Montebello Estate has an interesting history involving some prominent characters of Cape Town's past, and activities on the Papenboom estate of Newlands, including its sub-division into small estates, beer brewing, trout hatching, the Montebello homestead expropriation and the struggle for the preservation of some fine examples of period architecture.

Changing Ownership

The Montebello homestead and stables were built on what was part of the Papenboom Estate on land granted to Rutger Mensing in 1764. Mensing was the first brewer in the area, making use of the abundance of fresh spring water. The land passed to successive owners Rudolph Steenbok, Hans Jurgen Hauk and Dirk Gysbert van Reenen who built the house Papenboom, designed by Thibault and which was destroyed by fire in 1836.

Anders Ohlsson

In 1888 a prominent Capetonian of Swedish descent, Anders Ohlsson, purchased the Newlands Brewery from Cloete. Ohlsson's purchase included Montebello, Cloete's palatial residence near the brewery, and the associated outbuildings such as the stables and the stores. The documents recording this sale make the first known reference to stables but it is difficult to ascertain whether these are the same as those found on the site today. Although the original plans has not been found, the architect, John Parker, was responsible in 1905 for drawing plans for the addition of a "car port" on to the original building. Parker had worked on other stables of similar detail and construction found in the vicinity.

The Michaelis Family

Maximillian Michaelis purchased the Montebello estate from Anders Ohlsson in 1919. His son, Cecil Michaelis, conducted experiments with South African clays in the old Montebello stables to produce the fine local porcelain which gave birth to the now flourishing South African ceramics industry. Following the expropriation of the Montebello homestead and grounds for the South African College School, Cecil Michaelis successfully contested further attempts to expropriate the land on which the fine stable buildings stand and the adjoining richly wooded area.