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SEELIGER, Johann Carl Ernest

Born: 1863 12 18
Died: 1938 01 18


Year registered: 1927

Practised as an architect in Cape Town from 1890. He was born in South Africa, but his parents were from Germany and Seeliger formed part of a group of architects and builders from Germany and Italy who were working in the Cape. Seeliger was born in Paarl. His parents, on their way to Australia from Germany, had broken their journey in Cape Town where, defrauded of their money, they had been obliged to remain in South Africa. They settled in the German quarter of Cape Town, the St Martini area, and Seeliger was educated at the 'Penny School' in Lower Kloof St, training later as a carpenter and builder. He was offered a free passage to Germany where relations in Berlin volunteered to see him through his architectural studies and practical training at the Baugewerkschule, Berlin. Completing his studies, he worked for a time in the office of Professor M Mueller in Berlin before returning to Cape Town, opening practice there in 1890. Among his early clients was the South African News, in whose building he had his office from about 1890 and he designed their premises in Keerom St (1904/1905) and later (early 1920s?) supervised the remodelling of the building for Die Burger. He retained his office in this building until about 1936 when he no longer required it, retiring on account of his health. He married in 1894, designing his own house, Im Busch at 43 Camp Rd in about 1894, (now demolished and replaced by a block of flats, Silveretta). Seeliger and his friends the builders Joseph Rubbi, Anton Benning and Henry Teubes, the Government Surveyor, built themselves seaside houses at Kommetjie in about 1905. These were illustrated in the South African News (23.9.1905). In about 1909/1910 Seeliger had to look for work owing to the depression, he worked for eighteen months in Luderitzbucht (Luderitz) in South West Africa (Namibia), designing buildings for the Deutsche Diamant Geselschaft among others, one of which buildings was reproduced on a commemorative stamp in 1981. It is thought that he had a hand in the design of the Christuskirche on the hill in Windhoek. He returned to Cape Town in about 1910 and continued his practice, designing churches, commercial buildings and private houses, the latter often in a modified Cape Dutch style. After the First World War he did a great deal of work, not yet identified, for a friend and businessman Mr Eilenberg. He died in Cape Town in 1938. He was a loyal supporter of the German Lutheran Church, and a committee member of the Hilfsverein, (helping German families during the First World War, particularly those suffering from the internment of a family member); the German Red Cross Society made him an award for this service after the war.

(Cape Times 20 Jan 1938 obit; Die Burger 20 Jan 1938 obit; DSAB III: 736-37; Seeliger 1986; ISAA mem list; SAA&B May 1905:157; SAAE&S Jnl Sep 1907:212 ill; SAB Feb 1938:71, 79 obit; SAWW 1908)

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Books citing SEELIGER

CPIA Committee. 1983. The Buildings of Cape Town 1983 : Phase Two. Volume Three : Catalogue and Classification. Cape Town: Cape Provincial Institute of Architects. pp

Fransen, Hans. 2004. The old buildings of the Cape. A survey of extant architecture from before c1910 in the area of Cape Town - Calvinia - Colesberg - Uitenhage. Johannesburg & Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers. pp 41, 51, 66, 71, 138, 141, 348, 590

HSRC. 1977. Dictionary of South African Biography Volume III. Pretoria: Tafelberg for The Human Sciences Research Council. pp 736-737

ISAA. 1927. Register of Members the Institute of South African Architects. Johannesburg: ISAA (Unpublished Record). pp S3

Martin, Desmond. 2007. Walking Long Street. Cape Town: Struik. pp 63

Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1977. Victorian Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pp 79, 81, 109, 123

Radford, D. 1979. The architecture of the Western Cape, 1838 1901. A study of the impact of Victorian aesthetics and technology on South African architecture. Johannesburg: Unpublished Ph.D thesis. Dept of Arch. University of the Witwatersrand. pp

Rennie, John for CPIA. 1978. The Buildings of Central Cape Town 1978. Volume Two : Catalogue. Cape Town: Cape Provincial Institute of Architects. pp

Rennie, John for CPIA. 1978. The Buildings of Central Cape Town 1978. Volume One : Formative Influences and Classification. Cape Town: Cape Provincial Institute of Architects. pp

Walker, Michael. 2010. A Statement In Stone. Cape Town: Privately published by Michael Walker. pp 22-24

Walker, Michael. 2012. Early architects of Cape Town and their buildings (1820 - 1926) with postcard illustrations, The. St James: Michael Walker. pp 113

Walker, Michael. 2015. Old hotels of Cape Town (1890-1911), The : A history long forgotten, seldom told. St James: Published Privately. pp 16, 76

Chapters in books citing SEELIGER

Wenland, W. Seeliger, Johann Carl Ernst: in 1977. Dictionary of South African Biography Volume III: pp 736