Sammy Marks was a Lithuanian Jew who arrived in South Africa in 1868 aged just 24, escaping the pograms of Eastern Europe. His arrival in the country closely coincided with the discovery of diamonds. Seizing an opportunity the ambitious and entrepreneurial Marks, who had arrived in the country with little more to his name than the clothes on his back, quickly set about seeking his fortune. Marks, who was scraping a living peddling jewellery in the rural towns of the Cape, quickly headed to Kimberly to sell basic goods to mines and diggers in the booming mining town. After building up a successful business he graduated to trading diamonds and in 1881 moved to Pretoria just before gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand. Together with his cousin, Marks found a gap in the market for manufacturing goods required in the new mining towns of the Witwatersrand and steadily rose to become one of the region’s most prominent businessmen, involved in everything from pioneering new agricultural technology to flour mills and canned fruit.
Always interested in the newest innovations, Sammy Marks’ home at Zwartkoppies Hall was filled with all kinds of curious and unusual items that represented the most forward-thinking inventions and fashions of the era, almost all of which have been preserved and are spread across dozens of meticulously presented rooms. There are reception rooms with painted silk wallpaper, an extraordinary kitchen stove (imported from Europe) with five ovens and ten hot plates and a bathroom boasting one of the earliest known shower units.
Under the large oak tree in front of the house is a delightful tea garden serving, tea, coffee, homemade lemonade and delicious and fairly priced sandwiches, salads and other light fare.
Open 09:00-17:00. Closed Mon.