Mrs Kitty Smuts, Japie Smuts’s widow, inherited the Big House. Finding it difficult to maintain the old house, she offered it to various organisation, but they declined her offers. The Smuts family removed items of furniture and objects of sentimental value from the Big House while items of significant historical interest were donated to institutions best able and willing to preserve them.
In July 1960, a contract was concluded whereby the Big House and 25 morgen (21 hectares or 53 acres) of surrounding land were sold for Â£7000 by Mrs Kitty Smuts to Mr Brathwaite, an ex-serviceman and Pretoria attorney. Mr Brathwaite personally paid the 10% deposit on the same day. He announced proudly that “Doornkloof had been secured for the nation as a permanent memorial to the Oubaas and Ouma and all the ideals which we cherished and for which we fought during the war years”.
A congress of ex-servicemen and servicewomen’s organizations was held at Doornkloof on 8 October 1960, at which it was decided that a Section 21 company (i.e. a non-profit company), to be known as the General Smuts War Veterans’ Foundation, should be registered “to hold Doornkloof in perpetuity”.
The General Smuts Foundation still owns and administers Doornkloof. The tea garden,caravan park and Village Art and Craft Market generate some of the funds necessary for the day-to-day administration of the museum.
The administration of the Smuts House Museum is an interesting model for cultural preservation in South Africa today. Government does not have the resources to preserve the cultural heritage of all interest groups, and the onus for the identification and preservation of specific sites and aspects of history will have to rest on those with a particular interest in their preservation.