Fonds BC1475 - Martin Adams Papers

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Martin Adams Papers


  • 1920-1996 (Creation)

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Martin Adams was born in Cape Town on 18 October 1902. His father was Martin James Adams, a director of the building firm Adams & Nason. He was educated at Kingswood College, Grahamstown and the University of Cape Town where he was one of its first architecture students. He was articled in 1920 to architects Jones & Draiby and by 1924 was their Head Assistant.
He left Jones & Draiby in 1926 and by 1928 had set up in practice on his own account. In 1928 he went into partnership with HJ Jones at 6 Church Square, Cape Town. Among the partnership’s buildings was the Sun Insurance building in Greenmarket Square, a significant Art Deco building opened in June 1930 (now Protea Assurance). It was built by Martin’s father’s firm Adams & Nason, costing £50,000.
The partnership was dissolved in 1932 and Martin Adams practiced on his own account from offices in the Sun Building where he remained until about 1957.
With his father and others he was a founder of the Utility Citizens Housing League which was concerned with sub-economic housing. He was responsible for many housing projects on the Cape Flats at Brooklyn, Bonteheuwel, Lavistown, Epping Garden Village and other townships. He built a number of homes for the elderly such as Avondrust (1948) and Welverdiend (1951) in Rondebosch, Sheldon Park in Pinelands, and Douglas Murray Home in Retreat. His daughter reports that he was responsible for more than 400 houses in Pinelands.
Shortly before the Second World War he built his family a double storey, thatched house at Heathfield on the edge of Princess Vlei named “Bizweni”, and in the 1950s built a house in Higgo Vale perched on columns.
His daughter considered him a kind of genial and likeable South African version of Bertie Wooster. Another indication of his personality is the collection of self-portraits he drew to amuse and inform his grandchildren.
He died 24 June 1973, aged 71, leaving his wife “Bobb” and three children, Geoffrey, Gene and Jeremy.

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Donated by Gene Adams

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