–  THE EVERT OPSTAL STORY  –

The Evertsdal Opstal homestead that houses EVERT OPSTAL RESTAURANT is one of the oldest historically significant buildings in south africa.  The history of this property has been traced back to 1680, 28 years after Jan van Riebeeck had landed in the Cape.  One could even say that the history reaches further back to 1659 when a man named Evert who originated from West Guinee arrived in the Cape, was sold into slavery by the Dutch East Indian Company to Jan van Riebeeck who later set him free.  In 1680, the ground on which the house an cellar were built was leased by the Dutch East Indain Company to Evert.  Everstdal was named after this “Vryburger”.

The Cape Colony was established expressly to provide a refreshment station for the Dutch East Indian Company to replenish produce on the long journey between India and the Netherlands.  Evert was one of the early settlers who were given property.  he got the statutory of 60 morgen to grow fruit and vegetables.  A fortified building was built on the property and “Coffee klip” and clay renowned to th area was used as stone and mortar.  The “Coffee klip” can still be seen.  Thisfort was used to protect the fountain which was the origin of the Kuils River.  The building as it stands today still features the original gun slits and entrance.

in 1699 Evert sold the farm to Hendrik Ooswalt Eksteen.  In 1714 Eksteen built the house, the title-deed of which is displayed in the entrance porch.  Ooswalt Eksteen converted the Old Fort into a wine cellar.  The house was built in Cape Dutch style but part of it burned down more than hundred years ago.  It was later renovated in Victorian stye, with corrugated roof and verande with wrought iron scrolled pillars, some of which are still utilised in the garden.  In 1724 Esteen sold the property to Gysbert Verwey.

When part of the house burned down, the original gable was destroyed and there was no drawings of the gable to indicate what form the gable had.  After carefully lifting the cement layer over the Victorian stoep the typical granite flagstones underneath were revealed.  It could be seen where the lea flashing surrounding the gable and the thatch had melted in the fire and dripped onto the granite.  This indicated the width and position of the gable.  The gable was restored in the style of the period that the house was built.  Door-frames and windows that were replaced were specially made according to the original ones with screw free hinges and fittings.

In the old cellar (Old Fort) under a layer of dust, old kiaat window frames with glass were found which were installed in the house.  The glass had a rainbow coloured sheen.

The floor of the entrance hall of the house is paved with uge baked tiles which were used as ballast in the old Bavarian spice ships and exchanged at the Cape of Good Hope for other merchandise.  These tiles were buried in the garden under a layer of cement.  Each tile has to be separated with a diamond saw and cleaned.  Today you can see on these tiles tiny handprints made by child labor in the East three hundred years ago.

A big discovery was the unearthing of a well, which is the source of the Kuils River.  Archive documents confirmed this.  The will is situated inside the house below the surface.  Underneath the house are small tunnels and rooms which could have been used for storage.  The authentic bell behind the house was used to call the slaves.

In the wine cellar the original old wine machinery and wine vat are kept and there are underground wine cellars as well.  Where the Durbanville Rose Garden is, across the road, there used to be a very old wooden wind grain mill, part of which are now stored in the wine cellar.  The Rose Garden still accommodates the cemetery of the Schabort family who owned the farm for a period of 118 year.

In the past the Old Fort and wine cellar also served as a workshop for a blacksmith and hence the huge fireplace.