As part of the urban regeneration project under way in Cape Town’s Central City, St Andrews Square was originally intended as a public urban space and to facilitate pedestrians between the Central City and the Waterfront. Tramlines used to run along this route to Green Point and Sea Point. The square was once part of the forecourt of St Andrews Presbyterian Church which still stands on its original site. However, when the remains of approximately 5000 unmarked graves were discovered during work at construction sites in Prestwich Street in Green Point, a site had to be found for the re-internment of the bones of those once buried there. St Andrews Square now includes a memorial garden to those early residents, a visitors centre with a permanent exhibition and a re-internment facility (or ossuary, as it is known).
In April 2008, a blessing of the site by multi-denominational faith leaders was held and, in May 2008, the remains were transferred to their new burial site by a human chain of the interfaith leaders, archaeologists and members of the community.
The City of Cape Town provided the site and the funds for the construction of the Square in partnership with the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA), Heritage Western Cape and the District Six Museum. It is hoped that the square will provide another link to Cape Town’s pre-colonial and colonial past (when the area was known as District One).
Currently St Andrew’s Square hosts a museum where the history of District 1 is exhibited. It is also home to a wonderful coffee shop, Truth.