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News > ODs Around the World > Geoff de Wet gives a talk on Joseph Solomon who designed UCT.

Geoff de Wet gives a talk on Joseph Solomon who designed UCT.

The Mitre is honoured to have hosted an OD whose talk had already been given at the UCT Summer School.
Geoff de Wet (1964G) in the Board Room at The Mitre.
Geoff de Wet (1964G) in the Board Room at The Mitre.

Geoff de Wet recently delivered his talk to a packed-out Board Room at The Mitre (11 April 2024). 

By popular demand from many who were unable to attend the UCT talk, he repeated it at The Mitre.

Some of the research that Geoff had done for the talk was conducted from the Bishops archive, particularly on architect OD Joseph Solomon, who was in Founders from 1897 to 1904. This lecture covered, amongst others, Solomon's career including designing buildings at Bishops for the time he was the school architect - 1916 and 1920. 

A full account of the life of this extraordinary architect is at https://www.artefacts.co.za/main/Buildings/archframes.php?archid=1596 

A snippet from that link reads: "Born in Paarl, Cape, the son of Joseph Solomon, and was educated at the Diocesan College in Cape Town where he achieved recognition for his sketching ability with his portraits of school dignitaries for the Diocesan School magazines and sketches of the school buildings."

It is reported that Solomon was regarded as one of the most talented and brilliant architects Bishops has produced (from Michael Walker, The Architects of Diocesan College, Shumani Printers, St James, September 2014, p.29).

A previous staff member working at the ODU, Nicole Durand (subsequently Nicole Little) penned an article on Joseph Solomon that caught the eye of Geoff de Wet, a Cape Town practising architect. For this article, please go to https://www.odunion.com/news/archives-history/937/937-Joseph-Michael-Solomon-OD

One of Solomon's great achievements was that he was appointed the UCT architect for the new university's upper campus.  Unfortunately, he was appointed as sole architect with tragic repercussions.  He had till then executed only a few works so his practical performance could not be judged adequately.  To his credit, however, he had worked to refurbish the Old Town House on Greenmarket Square in the city centre in 1917; but the size of that project was not nearly on the scale of the new UCT buildings.  

Solomon loved doodling during lessons, especially creating images of some of his teachers; one of them he drew was George Walter Vipan, himself an OD, but the sketch was confiscated, which is the one visible inside the link (above) to Nicole's article. 

Solomon was also responsible for an ink drawing of the Founder, Robert Gray.

We also wrote in another article that: "When Geoff de Wet visited the archives, hopefully he left with more information than he had expected getting!"

This became clear to all those fortunate enough to attend Geoff's talk right here at the ODU, on an OD architect, by an OD architect!

The talk whilst it included Solomon, also explained the work by Percy Walgate for the construction of the War Memorial Chapel which was completed in 1926. 

As Bishops is now in its 175th year, soon the Memorial Chapel will be reaching its centenary. 

We always look forward to talks such as these at The Mitre! 

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