Helen Martins Museum
Following Helen Martins’ death in 1976, the local municipality took ownership of the property through an arrangement with her family.
Victor Dercksen, a local lawyer and writer, tells the story of how the municipality approached him around 1980 to handle the transfer of the Owl House. Helen Martins had passed away in 1976 and the house was left to her nephew, Herman Martins. “A piece of paper that was thought to be the deed of purchase was handed to me. It turned out to be only the donation of the content of the house to the municipality. The only way to lay claim on the property was to seize it for non-payment of taxes, but it turned out that a Good Samaritan had been paying the monies due.”
After intervention by the MEC for Local Government in Cape Town, the taxes were returned to the Samaritan. This paved the way for the sale of the house and an auction was organised. Nobody arrived and the municipality bought the Owl House for the final sum of R10.