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News - Ons Mense
Monday, 24 October 2016 22:52
Untitled Document

Eric Bolsmann

The Palms Hotel in Silverton was widely known for the three palm trees that grew through the flat roof of the building. They spread their crowns at a lofty height that could make one think of a mirage of an inviting oasis next to the cool waters of a pool.

It was a popular hotel built by Paradiso Michaletos, who also planted the trees to celebrate the birth of three of his seven children that were born after he had opened the hotel. In 1970 the Palms Hotel was replaced by a modern hotel of the same name. 


Three palm trees grew through the flat roof of the Palms Hotel in Silverton

The new owners incorporated the palm trees into the building, with their lower trunks being encased in glass boxes in the lounge leading to the Tokolosh restaurant.

During the early 1990s the hotel was converted into a residence for senior citizens. Not long after, one of the palms died. The two remaining palms are still towering over the building to this day.


In the 1970’s Pedro moved a few small palm trees his father had planted at the Hellenic Hotel
to his new house

Paradiso’s father, Connie Michaletos, also owned the 105 bedroomed Hellenic Hotel in Church Street in Arcadia. This he passed on to his son Connie. Connie’s son, Pedro, who had inherited the Hellenic, sold it to the developers of the Arcadia Holiday Inn in 1979.

Pedro and his wife Rose acquired land in the then sparsely populated ‘far east’ of Pretoria. The land was bare, save for a single storey thatched house. There was no road, no power, and no telephone.

One of Pedro’s first tasks was to move a few small palm trees his father had planted at the Hellenic Hotel to his new house that he had called The Farm Inn. “If the trees will grow in this barren soil,” he convinced Rose, “then we’ll grow, too”.


The cluster of trees rising far above the main building of the hotel

It took Pedro and Rose three years to overcome the red tape to get permission to open a small inn incorporating the original house and the converted stables he had built to breed Arabian horses. This was the beginning of the 51 bedroomed lodge on their Zwartkoppies estate.

Aware of the palm trees his grandfather and father had planted to commemorate the birth of their children, Pedro continued the tradition by planting the same trees as his six children were born.

Today there are 12 palm trees planted mainly in the vicinity of the swimming pool. Driving along the long road up to Zwartkoppies, the silhouette of the Farm Inn is clearly seen, and alongside this a cluster of trees rising far above the main building of the hotel form an inseparable part of the panorama.


There are 12 palm trees planted mainly in the vicinity of the swimming pool

“The palm trees have clearly survived the ups and downs on the barren soil,” Pedro said, “and so have we,” he added with a broad smile.

Whether Pedro had dedicated two of the palms each in celebration of the birth of his six children he did not say. But one thing is certain, the Michaletos family like palm trees – and children, of course

 

© 2020 Die/The Bronberger