Port Elizabeth City Hall

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The foundation stone for the City Hall (originally the Town Hall) on Market Square, (now Vuyisile Mini Square) Port Elizabeth, was laid by the Governor of the Cape, Sir George Grey on October 18, 1858. The Town Engineer, Robert Archibald, was the architect. The building was originally built as the Port Elizabeth Town Hall and opened in 1861. The front porch was added in August 1865, and the clock tower in 1883/4. Used for performances of everything from opera to gramaphone recitals. Mark Twain performed his At Home there in June 1896. The first Grand Gramaphone Recital in South Africa was held at the Town Hall on April 16, 1909. Four records from the world famous drama, An Englishman's Home, were placed at the disposal of Mr T A Conby who especially engaged Joseph Ashman to give a short explanatory introduction of the history and composition of the play. It was expected that the Hall would be filled to capacity. The first Eisteddfod to be held in Port Elizabeth took place in the Town Hall on July 26 & 27, 1912. The building was renamed the Port Elizabeth City Hall when the municipality gained City status on July 28, 1913. On July 9, 1934, the new hall was reopened with a performance of "Oh! Oh! Delphine!" The renovations were the work of George Begg, the City Engineer. The decorations were designed by F Pickford Marriott and made by him and the students of the Art School. In 1977 the City Hall was burnt down by arsonists but was afterwards a completely new interior was built. The original façade was retained. *** Port Elizabeth City Hall: Taubie Kushlick presented Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf starring American actors Jerome Kilty, Cavada Humphrey, and Fred Sadoff, and English actress Karel Gardner in 1963. It was set to play here, an Indian theatre in Durban, and the University Great Hall in Johannesburg, but controversy over the blasphemous language saw an early close for the production.


Eastern Province Herald, April 13, 1909.

Margaret Harradine. 1995. Port Elizabeth: A Social Chronicle to the End of 1945. Port Elizabeth: E.H. Walton Packaging (Pty) Ltd.

Percy Tucker, 1997

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See also Town Hall

For more information regarding Mark Twain At Home, go to https://muse.jhu.edu/book/46264

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