Johannesburg Experience

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Victorian Parktown

Parktown was once a gated community for the area's mining magnates, but most of its Victorian mansions fell victim to the wrecking ball long ago. Luckily, a few managed to survive.

Perhaps the cream of the crop is Northwards, designed by Sir Herbert Baker. For many years it was the home of socialite Jose Dale Lace, whose ghost is said to still lurk in the minstrel gallery. 21 Rock Ridge Rd., near Oxford Rd., Johannesburg, 2193.

Another gem is Outeniqua, a mansion built in 1906 for the managing director of Ohlssons Breweries. Today it's part of the Wits Business School. St. David's Pl., Johannesburg, 2193.

Across the road you'll find Eikenlaan, which was built in 1903 for James Goch, a professional photographer and the first to use flash photography in South Africa. In 1985 the home was turned into a rather garish franchise of the Mike's Kitchen steak-house chain. St. David's Pl., Johannesburg, 2193.

Interested in checking out these architectural treasures? Most are closed to the public, but the Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust organizes tours of the houses and gardens, which allow you a glimpse of turn-of-the-20th-century grandeur. 011/482–3349. www.parktownheritage.co.za.

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