Lemm’s Corner

At present, I am working on a definitive history of the part of the Hermanus CBD known as Lemm's Corner. It looks as if it will be a long report or a short book. I am giving a preview of the material I will be using because I am hoping that anyone who has additional information will get in touch with me to discuss including their information in the final product. Photographs are also very welcome. Email me on robinlee@hermanus .co.za so we can discuss possibilities. The Photographic Museum has images of Lemm’s Corner after the buildings had been demolished in 1981 and a struggle was going on about what to develop on the site. For contrast, I am posting a photo taken from roughly the same angle yesterday, 6 December 2020 This post covers the period 1870 to 1980. Most images courtesy of the de Wetshis Photographic Museum of the Old Harbour Museum Trust. 'LEMM'S CORNER' aka 'CORNER MAIN AND HARBOUR ROADS' aka 'THE FISHERMEN'S VILLAGE' Part One If the town of Hermanus had a centre, this was it. Now, it is mostly a park-like space, with trees, grass, sculptures, and a couple of buildings, not obviously related to each other. But it has a colourful past and could have an even better future – provided the document called 'Revitalisation Strategy for the Central Business District (2015') is eventually approved by the Town Council and implemented in planning decisions. The story of Lemm's Corner has three parts. First, the land was surveyed, and erfs identified and put up for sale by the Hermanus Village Management Board in 1874. The site we know as Lemm's Corner at first consisted of several different erfs that changed hands quite a bit. In due course, the consolidated site of Lemm's Corner was as shown in the diagram I have posted. Michael Clark drew the picture. Lemm's Corner is outlined in red. The first building on the site was erected towards the end of the 19th century. It was a structure that was familiar to many early South African towns - double-storey building, with a general dealer store on the ground floor, and space for storage and other purposes on the first floor. The first business that opened there offered more to the Hermanus market than general goods. Under the proprietorship of Jacob Obliwitz, the building also housed a tearoom, a bioscope and a barbershop. Mr Oblowitz was the shopkeeper, projectionist and barber. Mrs Oblowitz staffed the tearoom. The Oblowitz family moved to Cape Town in the 1920s, and the general dealer building (with some other buildings erected over time), become the base of a commercial operation belonging to the Lipschitz family, represented by Henry and Ada Lipschitz. Other members of the same family participated in the business from time to time. Henry and Ada died in the late 1950s and are buried in the Hermanus cemetery. In 1960, the property and business were sold to the Lemonsky family, and the name Lemm's Corner dates from that time. Their only child, Ruth, remembers her time in Hermanus and has visited Hermanus from the UK on two occasions. During the Lipschitz years, Lemm's Corner became the heart of the town. Every parade went past the door, and the Jewish community used a building attached to the store as a shul before the fit-for-purpose building was constructed near the entrance to the town. The Hermanus Varsity College now occupies that site. In 1980, Brian MacFarlane bought the site and buildings, and, in a controversial move, demolished the store and some other buildings. He sold the partially cleared property to a syndicate that intended to erect a modern shopping centre on the site. We don't know why that didn't happen, but by 1981 the property was acquired by Adv Christo Wiese through a company called Monex Property (Pty) Ltd. Just a note to readers: my latest book "For Keeps- Articles about Hermanus history worth keeping" is on sale at The Book Cottage in Hermanus. This is the only sales outlet. All income from the book goes to researching Hermanus history. It is a great holiday gift for family and friends and anyone interested in finding out why our town is like it is. Also, dozens of articles about the history of Hermanus by other researchers and me are available on www.hermanus-history-society.co.za These articles are independently researched and are not just the rehash of earlier work that is found on so many websites about the town. All free.