Manor houses in Uusimaa – part I
I doubt many people outside Finland know that our country has numerous manor houses from the 15th to the 19th centuries. A vast majority of them are to be found in the southern part of the country, which means you can find many manor houses in Uusimaa. Manor houses were built by both noble families and industrial magnates. Many of the old manor houses are still private homes but several have been converted into hotels, museums, restaurants, conference or meeting venues, etc. Part I focuses on manor houses in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, and part II on other areas in Uusimaa.
Bodom Manor, Espoo
Located on the shore of Lake Bodom in Espoo, Bodom Manor was completed in 1797 and renovated thoroughly in 1885 and 1930. The manor park also dates back to the 18th century and it was redesigned in 1919. Bodom manor is one of three historical manor houses located on the shores of Lake Bodom, the other two are Backby Manor and Oittaa Manor. The main house was used as a private residence until 2002 when the last representative of the Heimbürger family moved out. Today, the manor is used as a conference center, as well as a restaurant, and there is a golf club on the grounds.
Espoo Manor, Espoo
Espoo Manor dates back to 1556, although the present main building dates from 1797. The manor was built as the home for the municipal advocatus. In 1572 the manor was named a bailiwick. The manor has been owned by the Ramsay family, which was part of the Finnish nobility, since 1756. The manor was enlarged and remodeled in 1914, and within the grounds you’ll find a mill from the 1750s, and a bridge from 1777 on the King’s Road which passes the manor. This arch bridge is the oldest in Finland. Today, the manor is a popular venue for weddings and other private functions, and guided tours of the manor can be arranged by request.
Herttoniemi Manor, Helsinki
Hertoniemi Manor dates back to the 16th century and has one of the country’s most beautiful parks. In 1762 a faience factory was founded on the manor grounds that was operational until 1845. In 1815 the kiln building of the factory constructed in 1760 was converted into the main building of the manor. The manor sits in a park designed mainly in the Baroque style, with English Romantic elements, and an avenue of oak trees. Johan Bergbom was the last private person to own the manor and when he took it oven in 1888 it had 800 hectares of land. In 1916 Johan Bergbom sold most of the land but kept the manor house and surrounding park. Bergbom was murdered by the Red Guards in the Finnish civil war in 1917 and his heirs donated the manor to Svenska Odlingens Vänner i Helsingfors in 1919 in accordance with his last will. The manor has been open as a museum since 1925.
Håkansböle Manor, Vantaa
Håkansböle Manor’s history stretches to the 16th century and that of the manor park to the late 18th century. The current Jugend-style main building was completed in 1908. The oldest buildings on the grounds are from the early 19th century. The main building has a log-frame. The city of Vantaa acquired the manor in 2005. The renovation of the manor and the park was completed in 2011. The manor area is classified as a nationally significant built cultural environment. All the buildings on the manor grounds are protected. Håkansbölen kartanon kummit ry. arrange guided tours of the manor and its grounds during the summer.
Meilahti Manor, Helsinki
Meilahti Manor can trace its history to the end of the 15th century. The present main building and annex were built in the early 19th century, although the current appearance dates from 1913 when it was remodeled. The manor is now owned by Helsinki city, and the wooden building serves as a café. The manor has a large park and an English garden. Next to the manor you can find several old Jugend-style wooden villas from the 19th century. The Helsinki art museum used to operate next to the manor but had to shut down its museum building in Meilahti in 2012. You can still find several works of art on the grounds, however.
Pakankylä Manor, Espoo
The history of Pakankylä Manor, or Kaisankoti Manor as it was called from 1957 to 2018, can be traced to the 1540s. Today the manor is called Backby Manor. The oldest parts of the present main building is believed to have been completed in 1757, but the current appearance date from the reconstruction in 1938. The manor house has stood in its current locations at least since the 1860s. The last family to own the manor was the von Freymanns. Ernst Felix von Freymann’s father was a Russian national, which meant that Ernst also was considered Russian and thus would have been extradited to Russia in 1944. So, the family escaped to Germany in 1945. The main building and six hectares of land were purchased by a foundation in 1957 that established a rest home for women in the manor in 1958. In 2018, Backby Kalliomaa Oy took over ownership of the manor. Today, it is a famous Spa Hotel and restaurant, and the barn within the grounds is used as the Espoo Car Museum.
Puotila Manor, Helsinki
Puotila Manor can trace its history back to the 1540s. It is located in an area that was settled in the 13th century at the latest and used to consist of several smaller peasant farms that were joined into one farm in the 18th century. The main farm of the manor was formed from the former Rååns stud farm. The present main building, currently in use as a restaurant, was completed at the beginning of the 19th century. There were two annexes, but one was destroyed in WWI by fire. The granary, built in 1859, has been used as a chapel since 1963 and is one of the most popular chapels for weddings in the city. In the early 20th century the manor still had its own boat dock, the remains of which can still be seen by the Vuosaari bridge.
Rastila Manor, Helsinki
The history of Rastila Manor is traced back to the 1540. At this time there were three houses in the area that formed a village called Rassböle. Rastböle was a typo made by the scribe and became the official name of the area in the 19th century. By the 17th century the smaller farms in the area had disappeared and only one larger farm remained. A brick workswas founde on the Rastila manor grounds in 1748 to supply the construction of Viapori sea fortress with building material. In the early 20th century the acreage of the manor decreased as land was sold to build villas in the area. At the end of the 1940s land for subdivided for veteran’s houses. The last private owner of the manor was judge Walter Ahlqvist who purchased it in 1912. Ahlqvist’s estate sold the manor to the city of Helsinki in 1951 who continued to farm the land for about a decade. Today the main house, farm manager’s house and granary still remain on the grounds. The manor house now houses a lunch restaurant and ad agency.