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HESSE, Folkert Wilko

Born: 1855 11 01
Died: 1923 12 17


Hesse was born and educated in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the father of a Francois Hesse. In 1885 he married Anne Groenewald and had two children. They came to South Africa in 1901 and settled in the Cape. He practised in Cape Town between 1901 and 1923. He built many churches for the Dutch Reformed Church community, the mainstay of his practice. On several occasions he worked in collaboration with RM ROBERTSON. In 1909 he and his son Francois HESSE entered into partnership as HESSE & HESSE, and by 1915 he was working from an address at the Dutch Reform Chambers in Cape Town. In about 1917 he was responsible for the initial design of the Dutch Reformed Church at Warden in the Orange Free State, but it appears that in 1922 he was replaced on this job by GLP MOERDYK , presumably because of being incapacitated, who completed the building. Hesse was a member of the Association of Transvaal Architects by 1915 and a Fellow of the Cape Institute of Architects. 1915/1916.

(RIBA Kal 1915/16; SAWW 1908, 1910, 1916; Uitenhage P&P 1904; UTD 1915)

Publ: School buildings, SAAE&S Jnl Jul 1907:183 ill.

The following entry appears on pg 213 of Men of the Times - Old Colonists of the Cape Colony and Orange River Colony; The Transvaal Publishing Co, Johannesburg, Cape Town and London; 1906.

"Mr. Folkert Wilko Hesse was born on the 1st November 1853 at Amsterdam, and received his elementary education in Holland. He in due course went to the Art School in Amsterdam in order to study architecture, and, in addition to his theoretical work, his father, who was a manufacturer, insisted on his acquiring a thorough practical knowledge of the trades of carpenter and mason, without which the principles of his science would have been made more difficult of comprehension and application. To this end, he served three years in a carpenter's shop, and a further four months as a stonemason.

Following this, he went as a pupil to Mr. G Springer, who was the first architect, as regards connection and general excellence, for design, in Amsterdam. He remained in Mr. Springer's office six years, and then transferred his services to Mr. J. H. Schmitz, with whom he worked a further four years, having by this time become proficient in architecture. His first appointment was as draughtsman, and later as an assistant architect, in the railway department, where he stayed six years, leaving in 1885 to start in business on his own account in Amsterdam, his work being chiefly designs and plans of residences. After carrying out his practice for some seven years he gave it up and set out for South Africa in 1902, landing and settling in Cape Town, where he quickly got established and known, especially among the Dutch population.

Mr. Hesse has built several Dutch Reform Churches, of which we may mention those at Kuils River (and parsonage), Lady Grey*, Vredenburg and Hopefield. He also supplied the plans for the large Missionary Institute in Worcester, and the fine Dutch Reform Church at Steytlerville, and numerous residences.

Mr. Hesse is married to a daughter of Mr. Groeneveld, of Holland, and has a family of two, his son, working with him just now (1906), is avery promising and clever pupil."

*[The Dutch Reformed church in Lady Grey was in fact designed by CH SMITH, it is possible that HESSE may have been approached and designed something but when Smith appeared on the scene with the design of the School the community engaged him for the church as well.]

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.

List of projects

With photographs
With notes

Bloemhof Girls' School – Stellenbosch University Museum: 1907. Stellenbosch, Western Cape - Architect
Bloemhof Seminary (Theological College) altered, with RM ROBERTSON: 1905. Stellenbosch, Western Cape - Architect
Catholic Church: 1932. Salt River, Western Cape - Architect
Hospital: 1939. Nigel, Gauteng - Project Architect
Market Hall: 1930. De Aar, Northern Cape - Architect
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk: 1830-1842 : 1904. George, Western Cape - Architect 1904
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk: 1877 : 1911. Hopefield, Western Cape - Architect
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk: 1903. Kuilsrivier, Western Cape - Architect
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk: 1904. McGregor, Western Cape - Architect
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk: 1925. Memel, Free State - Architect
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk: 1925. Petrusville, Northern Cape - Architect
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk: 1926. Central, Stellenbosch, Western Cape - Architect
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk: 1906. Steytlerville, Eastern Cape - Architect
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk: 1884 : 1908. Uniondale, Western Cape - Architect
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk: 1918 : 1922-1924. Warden, Free State - Architect
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk - Murray Church: 1908. De Doorns, Western Cape - Architect
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk, proposed: c1925. Sea Point, Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Pastorie: 1903-1904. Kuilsrivier, Western Cape - Architect
NG Kerk Saal: 1924. Riviersonderend, Western Cape - Architect
Stellenbosch Boys' High School - Paul Roos Gimnasium: c1896. Stellenbosch, Western Cape - Architect
Theological Seminary (Kweekskool): c1900. Stellenbosch, Western Cape - Architect

Books citing HESSE

Dreyer, Andries. 1907. Historisch album van de Nederduitsche Gereformeerde Kerk in Zuid- Afrika. No. 1, De ring van Kaapstad. Kaapstad: Cape Times. pp Advertisement

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 39, 342, 457, 522, 567

Johnson, Brian Andrew. 1987. Domestic architecture at the Cape, 1892-1912 : Herbert Baker, his associates and his contemporaries. Cape Town: Unpublished Thesis UNISA. pp 373

Kesting, DP. 1978. Afrikaans Protestantse kerkbou : erfenis en uitdaging. Port Elizabeth: Unpublished PhD. pp

Menache, Philippe & David, Darryl Earl. 2012. A Platteland Pilgrimage : 102 country churches of South Africa . South Africa: Booktown Richmond Press. pp 12

Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1977. Victorian Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pp 135, 136 ill

Richardson, Deidré. 2001. Historic Sites of South Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. pp 22

Transvaal Publishing Co. 1906. Men of the Times : Old Colonists of the Cape Colony and Orange River Colony. Johannesburg, Cape Town and London: The Transvaal Publishing Co. pp 213