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Pixley House, comprising 93 residential apartments and 34 rooms on its upper floors with retail operations at ground level, has a fascinating history.

The residential component of one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in Durban, the historic high-rise building at 396 Dr Pixley Keseme Street now known as Pixley House, is among the prime properties to be auctioned by Broll Auctions and Sales next month.

The sale will be held at The Wanderers Club in Joburg on July 4 at noon.

Pixley House, comprising 93 residential apartments and 34 rooms on its upper floors with retail operations at ground level, has a fascinating history. It was built in 1938 as the home of Payne Brothers Department Store, founded by George and John Payne back in 1869.

Some of the noteworthy aspects of Payne Brothers’ new 1938 store, in what used to be West Street, is that it featured the largest escalator in the southern hemisphere. This apparently led to mothers being harassed by children to visit the store so they could ride the moving staircase.

In addition, the “House of Payne” had an impressive marble staircase, four lifts and – innovative for those days – air-conditioning, a pneumatic tube payment system and even shop windows.

Payne Brothers was the first store in Durban to introduce a self-service food hall, and for the store’s centenary in 1969, a CBD department store was for the first time allowed to open at night since the end of World War II. More than 50000 people grabbed half-priced merchandise.

The building was extended in the 1950s and in 1982 Game Store started operating from there. It was later renamed Prefcor House. A few years ago the urban regeneration company Propertuity turned the upper floors into a residential apartment block.

Broll will auction only the residential upper floors of this iconic landmark next month. It is a sure bet the company’s Tim Counsell on 0712472338 will be kept busy handling inquiries.

Prime properties in eMalahleni (Witbank), Gauteng, Pretoria and Polokwane are also catalogued for the sale. For more details, see www.broll.com or call 0877008289.

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