The original date of construction of the dwelling has not been definitely established but it is assumed that it was built, in its present form, by Willem Cornelius Boers, the notorious Cape Fiscal, who owned the estate between 1777 and 1782. Boers was reputed to have been a corrupt official who gained much of his wealth through extortion, and used government funds to develop this beautifully situated site.
The house was a typical double storey flat-roofed town house of a type popular at the Cape during the mid-18th century, but it was designed on a grand scale and is larger than the average townhouse of its time. Its most distinctive features included a highly ornamented classical façade, a stoep with an overhanging balcony supported on four massive fluted teak columns with Corinthian capitals, and large cellars located beneath its teak floors. The front doors are surmounted by a decorative fanlight, and are believed to be the work of Anton Anreith. Typical of its time one enters the house from the stoep into a voorhuis, with reception rooms on either side. From there one passes through to the agterhuis which served as a dining room and opened out onto a rear courtyard. On one side of the courtyard were the kitchen and pantry while on the other were located the bedrooms. The upper floor was reached by means of a stair in the agterhuis, and comprised of a drawing room, bedrooms, a bathroom and a storeroom. Construction is on a massive scale, using teak for its beams and floors.
Boers was recalled to Holland in 1783, and Rust en Vreugd came into the possession of OG de Wet, formerly Landdrost of Stellenbosch. From him it passed successively to Johannes Blesser, in 1798, and Ryno van der Riet in 1813. During the period of his governorship it was used by Lord Charles Somerset, and in 1828 became the property of the Hopper family. After this it passed into government ownership and was used as a residence by a number of educational facilities. It has since been restored and is now used as an art gallery housing the watercolour art collection of Dr William Fehr. It was declared a National Monument under old NMC legislation on 1 November 1940.
The house is said to be haunted, hearing footsteps as a woman floats around from room to room in the upper section of the house. late at night, if one has a clear view of the window that faces the city, one can see the curtain being drawn back as a woman peeks through onto the city with a crib by her side…
But some of the real magic exists in the garden which is made up of mainly herbs that were used for medicinal purposes.
The site can be used for functions however no tents may be erected.