Named after a former governor, the suburb of Musgrave is proudly traditional yet unquestionably modern.
A quick drive through Musgrave’s streets will tell you – there’s history in these homes, and it’s not hard to spot. Art Deco buildings are a regular sight from the streets and it tells an important story. Creating residential blocks of flats and other properties during the 1930s and ’40s, developers latched on to this eye-catching trend giving Musgrave the honour of housing some of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture.
Take a drive through the neighbourhood
As the Durban Art Deco Society highlights on its driving tour itinerary, visitors will find many prime examples on this style of architecture on their journey through the area, including many blocks of flats along Musgrave Road. Nowadays, while the main roads of Musgrave have a buzz to them during the day, thanks to the influx of businesses and people to the region, the quieter streets and avenues are what bring you home. Swing off a main road and into the shorter, narrower avenues and you’ll find rows of residential homes that house some of the city’s prominent families and urban go-getters.
Keeping pace with the times
Don’t let the strong historical ties fool you. Musgrave has quickly kept pace with the times and has propelled much of the transformation that has taken place over the years. Part suburb, part business, Musgrave is home to what’s said to be the oldest suburban shopping centre in Durban, Musgrave Centre.
A suburb in transformation
Clint Griffin, resident and owner of a communications and media monitoring company based in the heart of the Berea, says that Musgrave has become a much more diverse and lively neighbourhood. “Musgrave Centre has changed over the years and this is reflected both in the shopfittings and retail offerings. It can also be seen in the new architecture and – as more and more business and retail stores move in – in the feeling that the area has been transformed. Musgrave feels like a business district that is still home to many people. I like it; it’s diverse and buzzing.”
Some of Durban’s most prominent schools are located within the Musgrave area. Established in 1899, Maris Stella is an independent school that caters for girls from pre-primary to Grade 12. Situated close to Maris Stella, Durban Girls’ College was established in 1877 and also caters for girls from pre-primary to matric. And just up the road from Musgrave Centre, you’ll find Durban High School (DHS). As Durban’s oldest school, this all-boys school also offers boarding establishment and is renowned for its education. DHS will be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2016.
A reflection of Durban
Clint explains that Musgrave is a reflection of the larger city: “Durban is the big little city. We produce amazing things and amazing people. We also have the capability to host huge events without bringing the city to a standstill. Our roads work, our beaches are great year-round, and we can literally host a rock concert, an international awards evening, a football match and a cricket match all at the same time while everyone else in the city carries on regardless. That’s pretty amazing.
“I have a theory that although it looks like everyone in Cape Town is always out and about, they are obsessed with snapping pictures for all to see, while Durbanites tend to leave the phone at home and just do stuff, low-key. My background is the creative industry, and Durban consistently produces the top creatives in South Africa. They might move and they play in other parts of the world, but that curiosity, that culture of making things happen, is born here. Between the beaches and the bunny chows, Durban rocks.”
Things to do in Musgrave
- Grab a burger at St Clement’s: the kids can romp in the outside play area while you enjoy your burger in the organic garden nursery. Keep an eye on the venue’s events calendar – it regularly plays host to musicians and it also offers, poetry evenings and book signings.
- Pop in for scones at the Durban Botanic Gardens: made the same way since 1896, there’s some Musgrave magic in these scones and they’ll have you coming back for more.
- Walk the dogs at Jameson Park: situated next to Mitchell Park, this is a popular meeting point for dog walkers and their furry friends.
- Spend a day at Musgrave Centre: take in a movie upstairs, head to the food court for lunch and then spend the rest of the afternoon indulging in top-notch retail therapy.
- Enjoy a driving tour of the area: hop in your car, armed with the list from the Durban Art Deco Society, and explore the different things to do in Durban.
- R2,22m: Average asking price (house)
- R1,24m: Average asking price (apartment)
- R2,19m : Average asking price (complex)
- R8,500: Average rental (two-bedroom apartment)
7% of total sales listings in the Durban Central area
8% of the total rental listings
11% of the interest (views) of properties for sale
Want to find out more about Musgrave and its surrounding area? Watch this video for the lowdown
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.