About The Old Granary

The beautiful building on Buitenkant Street, known simply as the Granary, or the Old Customs House, is well over 200 years old and part of the Cape Town city's heritage.

Designed by the French-born South African architect and engineer, Louis Michel Thibault - who worked on a number of the city’s more elaborate buildings - it was constructed between 1808 and 1813 by Jacobus Hendricks for use as a house and bakery.

Did you know? The sculpture work - the British coat of arms and the figures of Neptune and Britannia on the building’s corners - were the work of sculptor Anton Anreith.

The beautiful, neo-classical building was then bought by the British for use as a customs house. Shortly afterwards it became a granary, and then a magistrate’s court. But it has also served as a post office, the Caledon Police Court, a women’s prison, the Civil Engineer’s office and the city’s first (informal) astronomical observatory.

Over the years the house has fallen into disrepair, and has failed to find an organisation to raise the necessary funds to restore and repair its steady decay. Instead it has stood empty for 20 years.

In late 2015 Desmond Tutu came to the rescue, offering to contribute R12 million towards the Granary’s refurbishment. He also agreed to take on the lease of the building as a home for the Tutu Foundation Centre. The City, in turn, contributed a further R30m towards restoration, which began in late 2016.

The building is protected by the National Heritage Resources Act preventing any changes to the building unless passed by the authority, and it has recently been nominated for heritage site status.

Both Buitenkant and Longmarket street facades will remain as they are.

Need to Know

WhereThe Old Granary, 11 Buitenkant Street. Zonnebloem, City Bowl, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa

WhenBest during daylight hours.

OvernightStay in Cape Town Accommodation, Western Cape


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