Luderitz | Namibia
After the discovery of diamonds in 1908, the carat charge to Lüderitz was in full swing. Prospectors, gamblers and fortune-hunters alike opened new diamond fields daily. The coastal town's new found population and wealth was reflected in the number of luxurious villas and properties that propelled Lüderitz as the leader in architectural beauty in southern Africa.
The Inspector of the Proviantamt for a German diamond-mining company at the time, was one Hans Goerke. He built a villa and relocated there in 1910. The interior featured ornamented wardrobes, flamingos on the coloured window panes and other styles combining the old with the new.
The wealthy were building mostly double-storeyed villas in Lüderitz and a tower room and a small cellar were typical additions to these nouveau riche households. The text on the mural in the entrance hall reads: 'Whoever enters this house with a positive attitude will be valued and welcomed here'. (Preferably with a pocket-full of diamonds!).
No expense was spared in Goerke's villa. The ceiling was adorned with imitation works of art and the anteroom was separated by all the other rooms in the house by a wooden loggia. Arches and pillars supported the 2 stories, joined together by a staircase that ran down to a spacious hall. Every room was fitted with functional electrical lights.
The outside of the building emphasizes the time and money that could be spent on the inside. Every room extended outwards, and the sitting room console, the dining room alcove and the bedroom balconies all added to the habitable benefits of such ground-breaking features.
After Mr Goerke sold the villa, it changed hands a number of times until it was bought by the Administration of South West Africa in 1944. It then served as a magistrate's residency (drosdy) until 1981. The Consolidated Diamond Mines became the owners for the second time in 1983 and implemented some much-needed restoration.
The former 'diamond palace' has often been called 'the best preserved and richest house of the period with remarkable interiors'. This title could apply not only to the buildings of Lüderitz, but to all other buildings of the German colonial period as well.
The Magistrate's Residence was proclaimed a national monument on 26th September 1975.
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