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House Shanghai Lil - Capricorn
Durban, KwaZulu-Natal

PAYNE and PAYNE: Architect
Wilfrid Stonehouse PAYNE: Design Architect

Date:n.d. : 1933


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29°48'12.89" S 30°51'07.92" E Alt: 404m

A woman who refused to live a conventional lifestyle has fascinated Durban-area residents for many years. Shanghai Lil, as Georgia Anna Boediker was commonly known, left more than her mysterious house behind when she died in Durban on January 6, 1951 at age 60.

Boediker was born in Bavaria in 1891 and arrived in Durban from Korea in 1929. She was the daughter of William Boediker (died January 23, 1937) and Barbara H Boediker (died June 10, 1946). For 10 years she owned a shop at 457 West Street known as Arts and Crafts, where she sold Oriental ornaments.

She was a tall, striking woman who wore Chinese-style clothing, which led to the locals calling her Shanghai Lil, and always wore a single earring. To add to the mystery, in 1933 she bought an old house at 23 Tracy Watts Road on Field's Hill, overlooking Pinetown, and rebuilt it as a replica of a wing of Frederick the Great's palace, Sans Souci. The property had been a girls' school, St Elizabeth's — the forerunner of St Mary's DSG in Kloof. The rebuilding was completed in 1936 and cost £12 000. The architect was Wilfred Stonehouse Payne of Payne & Payne. Boediker named the house Capricorn.

(Submitted by Arthur GAMMAGE from The Witness, 2007)