• BarbaraG@joburg.org.za
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Elsa and Adolph Wilhemi came out from Germany in 1891 and settled on the farm Driefontein which they bought from the Mostert family. They lived in a corrugated iron shack while Adolf built a stone house and dug a well on the empty land in a curve of the Braamfontein spruit , opposite where the Field and Study Centre is today. The Wilhelmi’s planted many of the blue gum and wattles that are still there today for tanning extract.

In 1937, Elsa Wilhelmi sold about 40 acres on which stood what remained of the homestead they had built when they first arrived from Germany. The man who bought the land was a building contractor called Philip Arnold who was an old German friend from their early days in Johannesburg. Elsa had decided to sell the land because she needed money to help her niece, Inge Sarauw, a famous opera singer, leave Germany because of the rise to power of the Nazi’s.

Philip and Emma Arnold, together with their son, Wolfgang, built their home with the help of some labourers. This home is now the Field and Study Centre.

Emma had insisted on the big room which has become a useful venue for gatherings and activities , such as yoga ,exercise, martial arts, art classes and the Bird club who have their monthly meetings as well as all the people that have celebrated their weddings and birthdays in what we now call the hall.

Philip Arnold died in 1956 and Mrs. Arnold and Wolfgang lived on in the beautiful house. She died sixteen year later at the age of 99 years on 22 April 1972 and her son, who had run a small farm on the property with a few cows, lucerne fields and asparagus, died two years later.

Wolfgang wrote in his will that Sandton must have the first option on the house and friends of the Arnold family rejoiced when the then Sandton Town Council bought the house out of the estate as a Field and Study Centre. “It was what Philip Arnold, his wife and their children would have wanted.”

Now 79 years after this home was built, the community is still enjoying spending their leisure time such as bridge, crafts, domestic workers courses, language classes and so on…  within the house’s rooms and entertainment areas.

The fields which have maintained their rural character and charm  and  once a very popular picnic place for the German community, in the early 1900’s  are now used for school  country events, company fun days, joggers, hikers, cyclists and come 17:00 every day is a buzz with dog walkers.

So the Arnold family’s dream lives on in Sandton …..The Field and Study is the place where the community learns, relaxes, keeps fit, unwinds and make new friends.