Since the first meeting of Paul Kruger’s “Volksraad” in May of 1890, the ou Raadsaal has housed many forms and levels of government. In 1900 it briefly accommodated the British and from 1962 the Provincial Council under the South African Republic. It currently serves as offices for the management team of the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality.
The building was designed by Sytze Wopke Wierda in a classical style reminiscent of Greek and Roman architecture. The statue atop the tower is said to represent Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, industry and agriculture. The building was originally supposed to be two storeys high, but president Paul Kruger insisted an additional storey be added so that it would not be shorter than the nearby hotel.
The building was restored in 1962, when the British Coat of arms over the entrance was replaced by the South African Republic’s coat of arms, a replica of the one originally sculpted by Anton van Wouw.
After many years of planning and research, the Raadsaal was once again restored in 1992, in an effort to return it to its former glory.
The Raadsaal is home to many detailed finishings. Among these is a bronze doorknocker, marble tiled floors, intricately decorated balustrades, and even hooks for the tethering of horses outside the building.
The main focus of the building is the council chamber itself, housed in the middle of the building. The entire hall has been restored to its original condition. Walnut chairs are upholstered with green Moroccan leather. The chairman’s backrest is also ornately carved with the Z.A.R crest. The tables have been placed in their original horseshoe formation (during British occupation, the furniture was arranged in straight lines along two of the walls.)
To the North of the council chamber is a balcony which served as the public gallery. To the East of the chamber, are three balconies, two of which were press galleries. The middle balcony was known as “tant Gesie se balkon” (Aunt Gesie’s balcony). This balcony was reserved for president Paul Kruger’s wife, Gezina.
The Council chamber, as well as an adjoined hall is available to be rented for functions.