In 1935 the late bishop Francis Henneman SAC decided to establish a chaplaincy for the Catholic students at the University of Cape Town. He negotiated with the Jesuit Superior in Southern Rhodesia who appointed Father Bryan Gavan-Duffy SJ who had been Prefect of Studies at St George’s College Salisbury.
On the Chaplain’s arrival at the Cape the Bishop took him to a house in Lover’s Walk called “Bishops Gate”. Said his Lordship to the Chaplain, “Father, this is the house I have taken for you and the rent is £9 per month which you will pay.
After a short while (October 1935) “Woodville” the residence of the late Dr. Petersen came onto the market. This was conveniently situated and in every way it was a desirable centre. Lot 13 was purchased with borrowed money.
The house having been acquired, it had to be named, and Fr. Gavan-Duffy decided that it should be known as “Kolbe House” after Monsignor FC Kolbe – an appropriate choice which was welcomed by the university authorities who had already conferred on him (in 1929) an honorary D.Litt degree for his establishment of the Michaelis School of Fine Art’. Kolbe himself never lived nor worked here but his great vision had begun to materialise.
Pictured below is watercolour by Thomas Bowler in 1863 of the original farmhouse.