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Erkrath-Gatheman-Kronprinz Facades

Windhoek | Namibia

In 1910 the Ekrath Building was erected as a business and residential premises for the 'Purchasing and Sales Cooperative (Pty) Ltd' on what was known as Kaiser Wilhelm Street, now known as Independence Avenue in the Namibian capital city of Windhoek. An unusual construction feature at the time was the sandstone walls, the first secular structure to have used the material in this way. The building lies opposite the post office and has always been one of Windhoek's most valuable Central Business District properties.

Heinrich Gathemann joined the German military in 1889 and arrived in Sandwich Harbour later the same year. Gathemann travelled on horseback to Windhoek with Curt von François where he took part in the cornerstone ceremony of the Alte Feste. He was also a member of the team that surveyed a coastal town in 1890, known today as Swakopmund.

After his discharge from the military, he married Luise Nissen-Lass, the widow of the farmer Christian Nissen-Lass and was employed by a transport company. He was considered one of Namibia's first European farmers after cultivating some land at Avis. He died in 1936.

The Erkrath complex was joined in 1913 by an earlier Gathemann Building. Heinrich Gathemann, the Mayor of Klein Windhoek needed an extension in the town for his business interests that could include a residence. Large shop windows allowed plenty of light to shine onto their display areas as well as into the shop. Ample window dressing opportunities to advertise their wares because of this design.

Between 1927 and 1928 the later Gathemann Building extension was added to the earlier building. Gathemann is credited with blending in the later design so perfectly with the original one, it has been assumed that the two buildings are in fact one. Both sets of windows on ground and first floor were built to lie vertically in sync with each other and the constructions still stand today.

The fourth building is the Kronprinz Hotel and is one of the few original buildings in Independence Avenue. The Erkrath-Gatheman-Kronprinz Façades in Windhoek were proclaimed national monuments on 22nd May 1987 and are now a proud part of the cities heritage and a must see on any holiday in Namibia.

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