Built in 1815, the Oude Leeskamer (original Dutch name of the building, - Old Reading Room in English) has a rich and varied history, including being used for a variety of cultural, educational, political and religious purposes. It derives its name from previously having been used as a public reading room or library, most notably by the Dutch readers’ club, Lust tot Wetenschap, (strictly for men only), which met here from as early as 1840. The formal name - Oude Leeskamer - appears on documents as early as 1861.
The building also served as a school, and the location of the Moederkerk’s evening services and catechism classes.
The Oude Leeskamer’s most noteworthy use, however, is that the decision to found a Gymnasium, which later developed into Paul Roos Gymnasium and the University of Stellenbosch, was taken in the building on the 28th January 1864.
In 1961, Stellenbosch Architect George Osler (of the famous South African rugby family), restored the building and started a trend in Stellenbosch, which led to the town centre being restored. George, his wife Pam (still a frequent visitor to the Oude Leeskamer), and their sons Bob and Russel made this building their home for over 20 years.
Fred de Kock (then a junior partner in George Osler’s architectural studio) and his wife Jean bought the building and it served as the location of the family’s architectural studios since the early eighties. In 2010 Fred and Jean de Kock began work on restoring the building. The Oude Leeskamer is now a small, independent boutique guest house owned and run by Paul and Karin de Kock.