In 1870 the Thesen family started a timber and shipping business in Knysna, and subsequently the Wharf company, which built the first formal harbour at the site of present-day Thesen Harbour Town. After the Thesens' moved their timber processing plant to the island, along with the boat building yard, in 1922, timber was processed on Thesen Island and loaded directly into freighters and shipped for export.
It is this maritime heritage that the architects have striven to preserve in both the re-adaptation of the old building, and in the general design and planning of Harbour Town and the Thesen Islands Marina.
The Boatshed has been adapted to house several functions. Noteworthy here is the fact that its entire existing timber framework has been retained and all the timber cladding has been re-used.
The old Boatshed was turned into an expo centre at first. Examples of windows, doors, paint colours, wall finishes, internal and external fittings and finishes were illustrated. The south façade of the boatshed demonstrated colours, porches, balustrades and overall style of the island architecture. Hence the look and style of that facade. The exceptional refurbishment of The Boatshed adds interest and character to Thesen Harbour Town. The original structure which was basically fully retained lends a unique maritime feel to the building.
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