The men behind the names of buildings at Wits University

Before the too fall….

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A look at some of the oldest buildings on campus and who they are named after. The #RhodesMustFall campaign has raised questions about the origins of the names of landmarks, streets and buildings around the country. We take a look at some of the buildings at Wits University and the people behind the names.

1.Barnato Hall

The building is named after Barney Barnato (1852- 1897), a European mining magnate who established the Barnato Diamond Mining Company,  the company that succeeded Cecil John Rhodes’ De Beers Mining Company.

2. Bernard Price Building

The Bernard Price building owes its name to Dr Bernard Price (1877 – 1948), Founding Chief Engineer of the Victoria Falls.  Manager of Transvaal Power Company in South Africa from 1911 -1936. He was also instrumental in founding the Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research.

3. David Webster Residence 

David Webster (1945-1989) was an anthropologist, Wits lecturer and anti-apartheid activist. He studied at Rhodes University in Grahamstown where his involvement in politics began. In 1970 he moved to Johannesburg to teach Anthropology at Wits University.

4. D J du Plessis Centre

David Johannes du Plessis (1918-199) was accomplished doctor and Head of the department of Surgery at Wits University. He also served as Chief surgeon at the Johannesburg Hospital from 1977-1994.

5. G R Bozzoli Sport Pavilion

In memory of G R Bozzoli (1911-1998), a former vice chancellor of Wits.  He served as a major in World War II where he was enrolled in the Special Signals Services to develop a radar system for South Africa. He returned to Wits as a Professor of Electrical Engineering in 1948. He spent 30 years here as dean of the faculty of engineering, deputy vice chancellor and then vice chancellor Information provided by: A Vice-Chancellor Remembers: The memoirs of Professor G.R Bozzoliand Wits Archives

6.  Jan Christiaan Smuts House

Jan Christiaan Smuts (1870 – 1950) was a great military general who went on to become the Prime Minister of South Africa. Information provided by www.sahistory.org.za

7. Oppenheimer Life Science building

Ernest Oppenheimer (1880-1957) was mining entrepreneur and founder of Anglo American Corporation. He was elected as Mayor of Kimberly in 1908.  As a member of parliament he focused instead on financial and economic issues.

8. Oliver Schreiner School o of Law

Oliver Schreiner (1890-1980) was a respected South African judge and law lecturer at Wits university. He set many precedents that still shape the laws of today.

9. Wartenweiler Library

Fred Wartenweiler (1876-1968) was president of the Chemical, Mining and Metallurgical society in  Johannesburg. His wife Jane Love Wartenweiler,  loved the English language and fought for its preservation. In her honour he donated money to several university upon his death. Wits was one of them and named its main Library after them in appreciation. Information proved by the Wartenweiler brochure provided by Wartenweiler Library Staff

10.William Cullen Library

William Cullen (17910-1790) was a physician, chemist, metallurgist and teacher. Mostly celebrated for his work as a lecturer, who taught in plain English to ensure that his courses were practical, hands on and student lead. Cullen is remembered as a forward thinking man.

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