Rust en Vreugd was built as a home for Willem Cornelis Boers, a high-ranking official of the VOC (Dutch East India Company) known as a fiscal, around 1777–1778.
The house was built on Cape Town’s outer limits (hence the name of the street – Buitenkant or outer edge) in the transitional area between town and the larger market garden farms of the upper part of the city. After Boers, the property was passed on to several other private citizens.
In 1878, the house was bought by the Dutch Reformed Church and served as a teachers’ training college; the Cape Town High School occupied the property from 1925–1957; and in the early 1960s it was restored and converted into a gallery space.
A second restoration took place in 1993, and more recently, disabled access facilities were installed.
In 1965, William Fehr donated his private collection of works of art on paper (watercolours, prints and drawings) to the people of South Africa. This gift is housed at Rust en Vreugd. Due to the sensitive nature of artworks on paper, only a selection of works is on exhibition.