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The need to preserve for posterity the best examples of past creative efforts


Author:EATON, Norman
In:Pretoriana April No. 23
Pages:pp 33-34

In a letter addressed to Dr. Punt, Chairman of the Association Old Pretoria, Mr. Norman Eaton, A.R I.B.A., M.L.A., the very well known Pretoria architect, refers to the projected "Open Air Museum" for Pretoria and gives some valuable advice:

"I read with interest a report in the "Star" of 25/10/1956 of your talk to the Women's Club about the projected "Open Air Museum" for Pretoria and the magnificent site given by the City Council. Having long been convinced of the need to preserve for posterity the best examples of past creative efforts of our people I think the move an excellent one.

"Preservation and rebuilding however are two different matters, the latter, even more than the former, requiring the most fastidious and painstaking handling if the result is not to be merely a piece of superficial sentimentality of no lasting value. To achieve their most valuable purpose, buildings such as those it is proposed to rebuild must be true right through to their core without the use of shortcut methods, out-of-date materials or fake of any sort. They must be historically correct down to the smallest detail and in the most hidden places and thus be references for more serious visitors who wish to study the building methods and design characteristics of the time. The approach is as much an archaeological as an architectural one and unless the fullest degree of accuracy is aimed at and achieved, any money spent on the work would, in my, opinion, be ill-spent.

"I know from experience of the impatience with which results are awaited once work of this sort is commenced and how the general public and even otherwise responsible members of an actual controlling committee will often be prepared to accept something only partially accurate rather than wait for careful research to produce the proper thing.

"In addition to this, other qualifications - patience, meticulousness and a sort of disinterested devotion to historical accuracy - is required of any man responsible for the erection of such work if the results are in any way to be worthy of the effort.

"It is because this approach is no easy one to achieve in this fast-moving matter-of-fact era we live in to-day that I feel moved to stress these points and I hope you will appreciate that it is my intention to do so in a constructive way.

"Please accept my best wishes for the success of the project."