Utopia House, Mutare

National Monument No.: 
Why Visit?: 


  • Utopia House was the home of Rhys and Rosalie Fairbridge. He was a government surveyor and responsible for surveying the present town of Mutare. In 1897 he had his home “Utopia” built on one of the prime sites that he had surveyed earlier. When the stone walls of the house were about four feet high he realised the rainy season was fast approaching and with little money to complete the building, he planted poles around the uncompleted walls, to support a thatched roof. Between the supporting poles he hung reed mats!
  • The interior of the house has been restored to the 1910-20 period. Many of the original items of furniture and other possessions belonging to the Fairbridge family have been preserved and are on display.
  • His son, Kingsley Ogilvie Fairbridge, was a poet and founder of the Fairbridge farm schools. The statue of a young Kingsley Fairbridge, his African companion, Jack, and dog Vic was unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on 8 July 1953. In the past the statue was displayed prominently at the summit of Christmas Pass; the statue was moved in 1982 and is now in the gardens at Utopia House, Mutare. 
  • Well conducted tour from National Museum’s staff who are well briefed on the history and items of interest within the house.

How to get here: 

From the Mutare Museum drive into Mutare central on Aerodrome Road, 0.45 KM turn left into Herbert Chitepo Street, 1.96 KM turn left into Jason Moyo Drive, 2.2 KM Utopia House is on the right and opposite St Dominic’s Girl School at 11 Jason Moyo Drive.

GPS reference: 18⁰57′35.19″S 32⁰40′39.33″E



Part of the antiquities collection of the Mutare Museum is displayed at Utopia House, the old Fairbridge homestead, which was offered to National Museums and Monuments in 1972 by Mr. H. T. F. Went, grandson of Rhys Fairbridge, who did the original survey of Umtali and was the father of Kingsley Fairbridge.

For many years the building remained in its original state and was known as the house with doors, but no walls. When the building was finally completed, the corrugated iron roofing, doors and windows were brought up from South Africa. As there are no ceilings and bare floors; the open fireplace displaying family photographs, must have been a winter necessity.  The walls are constructed of granite stone held together by dhaka cement. The furniture is simple, but sturdily constructed and includes luxuries like a piano which the family and friends must have gathered around for social singsongs in the days before radio and television. 

The shelves are all open, displaying books and lamps, china and pots and kettles, all the paraphernalia of Edwardian life! Mr Rhys Fairbridge’s office is separate from the domestic rooms with a bullet hole in the door as the story goes he was once too sick to summon help and fired his gun to attract attention! The kitchen, similarly separated from the domestic rooms, has a hatch through which the meals were served.  


When to visit: 
All year around Monday to Sunday 9am to 5pm
The entrance fee is included in the Mutare Museum ticket price, but visitors will need to take a curator and guard with them as Utopia House is about two kilometres from the Museum