The oldest remaining building in Bloemfontein, the First Raadsaal is part of the National Museum. The modest building of dung floors and a thatched roof was erected by Major Warden in 1849 as a school. It was the first school building north of the Orange River. It served as a church until 1852, and was then used by the Legislative Council of the Orange River Sovereignty, and from 1854 by the Republic of the Orange Free State as an Assembly Hall and offices. When the Assembly Hall was moved to larger premises in1856, the building reverted to being a school until 1877. The National Museum was founded in the First Raadsaal where it was housed until 1915, after which it was used variously as a church, as offices, a storeroom for locust poison and a recreational hall. In 1936 it was proclaimed a National Monument and in 1975 the First Raadsaal was made available to the museum by the government to be restored to its original historical context. The restored First Raadsaal Museum opened to the public in 1977. This is an impressive and unique building with its Ionian columns, domed tower and pediment containing the Free State coat of arms in relief and iron railings imported from France. On the grounds of the Raadsaal stands the equestrian statue of General Christiaan De Wet. At one time the Raadsaal housed almost all of the city's original civil institutions.
-29° 7' 12", 26° 12' 57.6"