Historic houses in Åre

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Historic houses Your guide to historic houses in Ă…re


Historic houses in Åre

By car to Åre Elektriska Conditori in the old stable at Gunnar’s Farm, and by horse and sleigh to Sporthotellet in the early 20th century.

You are standing on the square in Åre, which is the biggest alpine tourist resort in Sweden. Before the arrival of the railway, no com-­‐ munity named Åre existed. Here instead were the two villages of Totten and Mörviken, which comprised seven mountain farms. This is also an ancient Sámi area where there have been important reindeer grazing areas. When the railway to Åre was built in the 1880s, the mountains became accessible, and mountain tourism developed. It was then common to re-­‐ ceive overnight tourists at the farms and some of the farms combined farming with running a guesthouse. In many cases, the people on the farms continued to farm in combination with their guesthouses. Many of the tourists were “air guests”, who came here to breathe pure fresh air, walk in nature, see beautiful scenery and experience authentic, untouched natural and cultivated landscape. Come with us on a tour of the historic buildings in Åre.


2. Grottan

1. Åre station

We begin at Åre station, which was the starting signal for the development of Åre. When the North Swedish railway was opened in 1882, it became possible to travel all the way to Norway from Stockholm via Åre. Construction work on the old, yellow station building began in 1880. When Ƥ ǡ permission to serve food in the second-­‐class waiting room. In 1888 he had a small separate restaurant built, called Lådan (The Box), in a simple wooden building near the station building. A few years later it was replaced by Åre Jernvägsrestaurang. It stood roughly where today you can see Grands Veranda. The old station building is today a listed building, and it is included in a town plan with Åre Park and the Avenue that runs right up to Åre Square. When the tourists arrived at the train station they were met by an impressive sight, with the funicular railway terminal and Åreskutan mountain in the background. Ƥ ȋ Ȍǡ staircase-­‐like installation with a small waterfall and pond, which you can still see.


neers in tourism in Åre and during these years, Villa Tottebo was his residence. After a time he passed it on to the newly built Åre Fjällkuran-­‐ ȋ% Ȍ ơ -­‐ commodation, where there were a great deal of festivities, it is said. At the end of the 1970s, the house was left empty and began to de-­‐ cline. One sunny day in spring 1993, three Åre residents sat at the top of Åreskutan mountain, and there and then a project was discussed to start a restaurant. Two years later, the vil-­‐ la was moved down the steep slopes in the village, and the condemned building was given new life. In No-­‐ vember 1995, the restaurant Villa Tottebo opened its doors.

Grottan is built of stone blocks with a staircase on each side leading up the park towards Åre Square and the funicular railway. Grottan was built in 1913 and is today a listed building.

3. Villa Tottebo Next to Grottan you can see Villa Tottebo, which was built in 1897 by the merchant Lars-­‐Eric Lithander as a hunting lodge and summer cot-­‐ tage. The house then stood well up on the slope behind today’s health centre. The house then changed hands several times until in 1917 it was bought by Agnar Meurling, a well-­‐known Stockholm restaura-­‐ teur. He was one of the early pio-­‐ 3

4. Grand´s Restaurant and Grand Hotel

On the photograph you see Grand Hotel and Åre Jernvägsrestaurang.

The increasing numbers of tourists in Åre led to the opening of Grand Hotel in 1897, the building which is today called Grand Residence. The wooden architecture is of neo-­‐Goth-­‐ ic and neo-­‐Renaissance style, and partly Swiss style.

Ƥ Ǧ with 42 rooms, lounges and warm baths. Albert Wettergren and his wife Karin ran the hotel, as well as run-­‐ ning the railway restaurant Åre Jern-­‐ vägsrestaurant which at the time stood nearby. On New Year’s Eve 1908, the railway restaurant burned

down, and was replaced by Grand´s Restaurant. It is the building you see with the name Verandan, although partly redesigned and extended.


5. Thomassons gård

6. Benamsgården The older buildings on Benams-­‐ gården (Benam’s Farm) are the rel-­‐ ics of the original farming village of Mörviken. The farm dates back to the 17th century and is close to what many years ago was the main thoroughfare between Sundsvall and Trondheim. For through travel-­‐ ǡ ơ -­‐ commodation for both people and horses. As the “air guests” became more frequent, and the railway was built, Benam’s Farm became one of Ƥ -­‐ tion. It is said that several prominent guests spent the night here, such as the poets Carl Snoilsky and Carl Au-­‐ gust Tavaststierna. They both wrote ơ ǡ -­‐ cluding the waterfall Tännforsen. In those days, guests could see cows and sheep graze on the slopes of Åreskutan mountain. Benam’s Farm is named after Benam Hansson, who was both a horse handler and farmer. His son ǯ Ƥ world class Alpine skiing legends, and enjoyed a good deal of inter-­‐ national success. The Hanssons Ƥ % ǡ ǯ Ƥ ǡ completed for the World Alpine Ski-­‐ ing Championships in 1954.

Thomassons Gård (Thomasson’s Farm) was built at the end of the 1890s. Reindeer owner and pho-­‐ tographer Nils Thomasson moved in with his family in 1916. At the time, Åre was not only a growing tourist resort. The village was also a strategically important place for the Sámi communities around Åres-­‐ kutan. Here in this building, Sámi representatives came to discuss reindeer industry matters and plans to spread awareness of Sámi rights. The Thomasson family always of-­‐ fered accommodation and a seat at the food table. Many of the historic photographs of Åre you see were taken by Nils Thomasson. His pic-­‐ tures tell of a history which to many is unknown or forgotten. At the same time, his activities and pho-­‐ Ƥ the self-­‐esteem of the Sámi move-­‐ ment. At a time when the so-­‐called “Lapps” were considered inferior, he never hesitated to show his strong Sámi identity. Today the family are running the Thomasson Gård as a guesthouse and conference centre and are proud upholders of the Sámi heritage.


7. Sporthotellet Sporthotellet was built in 1912. The hotel is the only complete Art Nou-­‐ veau building in the Swedish moun-­‐ tain world. When the hotel was built it was with its 68 rooms much bigger than previous hotels, and attracted many foreign guests. It distinguished it-­‐ self from surrounding buildings with its location, size, architecture and bright colours. The hotel dominat-­‐ ed the Åre skyline until the 1980s, when new buildings gradually began to take over in the centre of Åre. The hotel is said to have had many famous guests. It is said that the Swedish poet Johannes Edfelt ͞ ƥ-­‐ cult to pay his bill. “Lock me in with a crate of beer and I will write, and let me out in the morning,” he asked. ǡ ơ happy but unshaven Johannes Edfelt holding the pages of a manuscript, and saying: “My publisher will buy this”. The poet was right, and the hotel bill was paid.

An early car rally in Åre – the village that Ƥ Ǩ 6


9. Gunnargården

8. Åre Bergbana

ǡ % ǡ ͙͙͘͡ǡ Ƥ % Ǥ -­‐ nicular railway was one of many ambitious plans developed by engineer Carl Olof Rahm. He had spent a good deal of time in Davos skiing resort in Switzer-­‐ land, and was very much inspired by what he had seen and experienced there. His aim was make Åre “a central place for winter sports”. This would be done by building hotels and restaurants, roads, water mains and sewage systems, electrical power plants and an electricity grid. The funicular railway is about 800 m long. The two railway carriages leave simultaneously from the upper and lower terminals respectively and meet in the middle at the halfway station. While one carriage is going up, the other is coming down and acting as a counterweight. The two terminal buildings were listed in 2008. The funicular railway was extensively modernised in the 1950s. The carriag-­‐ es were replaced by those we see today. The previous carriages were built of wood and kept warm with wood-­‐burning stoves.


10. Mårten’s Villa

The red wooden house with white windows is from the 19th century and is a relic of the former farming village of Mörviken. The house is named after the farmer and Mem-­‐ ber of Parliament Gunnar Eriksson, Ƥ % here at the end of the 19th century. The original plans for the railway between Östersund and Trondheim involved routing it north of Åresku-­‐ tan mountain. But Gunnar Eriksson had other plans, and through in-­‐ tensive lobbying he had the railway routed through Åre instead. In 1906, Carl Olof Rahm bought Gunnargården (Gunnar´s Farm) and ƪ ƪ Ǥ Rahm had a power station built at Tegeforsen Rapids in order to power the funicular railway. According to logbooks, the machine operator oc-­‐ casionally had to call to ask for more electricity so that the fully laden car-­‐ riage would make it up the steep hill. Rahm also had the farm’s cat-­‐ tle shed converted into a workshop and forge for the use of the power company. He turned the stables into a bakery and confectionery café which was named Elektriska Condi-­‐ toriet.

The brown house with white trim-­‐ mings which you can see is Mårten’s Villa. It was built in 1911 as a private residence for and by master builder Mårten Ohlson. He was born in 1871 in the village of Totten. In the early 20th century, Mårten would become the leading master builder in the county. He worked together with the architects Karl Güettler and Per Benson on the construction of the Grand´s Restaurant and Sporthotel-­‐ let, and on the conversion of Hotel Åregården as well as Åre hospital. Mårten Ohlson never married, and therefore never moved in to Mårten’s Villa as he had planned. It was used instead as recreational home and was rented out to tour-­‐ ists. Today, Mårten’s Villa is a private residence.





1. Bahnhof Café, old station, p. 2.



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18. Åre Fjällkuranstalt, p 16. ͷͿ Kurortsvägen ͷ;

19. St Olav’s Trail, p 17.

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20. Åre old church, p 17. 21. Torvtaket, p 18. 22. Åre school, p 18. 23. Åregården, p 19. 24. Hemslöjdshuset, p 20. 25. Peak-­‐huset, p 20.

11. Strandberg’s Villa

13. Hotell Granen

Next to Mårten’s Villa you can see Strandberg’s Villa, with green shutters. The house has spiral columns on the bay windows, and the corners in the form of pilasters. The porch has paintings typical for the age. Ƥ residence in the beginning of the 1930s. He bought Grand Hotel along with its restaurant, and later built his own hotel, Sporthotellet. Through his own inter-­‐ ǡ % Ƥ ǡ and commitment to the restoration of Åre church. % Ƥ Ǥ ͙͛͘͡ ǡ was bought by the tradesman Nils Strandberg. The villa today remains in the Strandberg family.

12. Villa Solbränna

The building was constructed in 1910 as a guesthouse – Pensionat Granen – by Mårten Ohlson, who was both architect and master builder. The house was later donated to Vendla and Nils Åberg, who expanded the guesthouse into a hotel with several rooms, dining halls and lounges. Hotell Granen was later taken over by Bibbo Nordenskiöld and the hotel was extended even further. During the World Alpine Championships in 1954, the French and German national teams stayed at Hotell Granen. Press and radio also had their headquarters here. Then the catering school Åres Hotell-­‐ och Restaurang Facksskola used the building for a while, after which it became a hotel again. Villa Solbränna was used by Ruuth’s Guesthouse, one of three guesthouses that were ready by the time the funicular railway was opened in 1910. In 1917, the Swedish Tourist Association issued a publication on “rest facilities and spas in Sweden”, in which we can read the following: Ruuth’s Guesthouse in Villa Solbränna (450 m asl) between the starting point of the funicular railway and its terminal. 6 guest rooms, lounge, piano, library, bathrooms. Electric lighting. Open year round. Board 5 - 8 kr per day. 12

14. Villa Årebo Villa Årebo was built by one of the Pålsson brothers from Åre. It was run as a café and guesthouse by Vendla, who later married Nils Åberg. Together they would eventually run both Villa Årebo and the guesthouse Pensionat Granen. Bibbo Nordenskiöld also bought Villa Årebo, which for a long time served as ơ Ǥ 13

15. Villa Jamtbol

16. Tott

The engineer Carl Olof Rahm had a development plan for Åre which included a housing estate close to the funicular railway. Villa Jamtbol is among the de-­‐ tached homes and guesthouses that were constructed under that plan. The house was built between 1912 and 1916 for the bank director Salomon Sahlin. The architect was Jacob J:son Gate, who designed a large number of ǡ ǡ ƥ ǡ Ǥ -­‐ day the villa is a private residence. This timber building in national romantic style is largely intact as regards furnishings, and both the exterior and interior are protected. The house was built by the Nilsson brothers from Åre. One of the brothers ͚͘ % ơ Ȃ ơ that was essential equipment for the discerning tourist. According to records, % ơ ͙ ͘͝ Ú Ǥ


Ǥ Ƥ ǡ “Gula paviljongen” (The Yellow Pavilion) was built in 1889, and in 1903 Res-­‐ taurant Villa Totten was added. The owner was the station inspector Albert Wettergren, something of a legend in Åre. The young Thyra Roland ran the business and eventually became the owner. Tottgården Guesthouse was constructed in 1929, and after it was extended ¤ Ǥ ơ ͘͝ 37 rooms, all with running hot and cold water. Tottgården became an increasingly revered and up-­‐market hotel, where Miss Roland carefully selected her guests. Miss Roland ran the hotel until she passed away in 1964. It was then bought by two master builders from Stockholm who renovated and extended it. After changing hands and being extended a number of times the hotel is today called TOTT, and is a complex of owner-­‐occupier properties, a hotel, conference facilities and restaurants. Parts of the yellow wooden building remaining today were also part of Tott-­‐ gården Guesthouse.


Totten village is a setting that bears memories of Åre’s long history as a farming region. Farm buildings stood high up on the slopes, with the farmsteads crowded together on the village street. The open farm-­‐ lands were on the steep slope below, and forest and grazing higher up. The dwellings in the village were also used as guesthouses and other tourist accommodation. The vil-­‐ lage gained a reputation for having health-­‐bringing, clear fresh air. Totten village still has remains of the three original farms, with farm-­‐ hand accommodation, elevated storehouses and other farm build-­‐ ings. New houses and buildings have been added however, while others have been moved, demolished or destroyed.


19. S:t Olavsleden

20. Åre old church

Åre Fjällkuranstalt (Åre Mountain Spa) was built after the discovery ơ mountain air. It was completed in 1923, with 120 places for patients with nervous symptoms, rheumatic conditions and later also asthma and respiratory problems. Tubercu-­‐ lous patients however were not wel-­‐ comed for treatment in Åre. A special child’s section was added, where children from all over Sweden ơ while attending school in Åre. The architect was Karl Güettler and today there is only one build-­‐ ing left of the original Åre Mountain Spa. Several new buildings were added in the 1950s to the 1970s. Today we have the health centre and dental care in the east wing. The ƥ many of the local entrepreneurs.



18. Åre Fjällkuranstalt


17. Totten Village

You have now arrived at the 500 km St Olavleden (Saint Olav’s Trail). It starts on the north Swedish coast, where King Olav Haraldsson stepped ashore in 1030 after a period of ex-­‐ ile. He marched with his army to Norway to take back the throne and Christianise the country, but was killed in the battle of Stiklestad. There are stories of miracles at the ǡ Ƥ went there to seek to be cured. Olav was canonised and when his remains had been removed to Nidaros Ca-­‐ thedral in Trondheim, pilgrim began to travel there from all over Europe. Nidaros became an important Chris-­‐ tian site in the same way as Rome, Jerusalem and Santiago de Com-­‐ postela.


Åre old church was built by the farmers of Åre parish at the end of the 12th century. The location of the church may be connected to the proximity of Frönäset and Ul-­‐ lån, names related to the pagan Norse gods. Pilgrimages heading for Stiklestad and Nidaros were also im-­‐ portant to the origin of the church. In the 18Ƙƌ century, the church was extended to twice its length and was given its present-­‐day interior. The the overall impression is still that of a mediaeval stone church – the only one in a Scandinavian moun-­‐ tain area. The open area around the church shows how it originally stood – free in open farmland. Inside the church there is a 14Ƙƌ century icon representing Saint Olav, the canonised Viking king.

21. Torvtaket

22. Åre school

The whole roof of the brown tim-­‐ bered house was originally made of peat, hence the name Torvtaket -­‐ The peat roof. The construction of the house was begun in the 1930s by Peter Sahlin – house painter, artist and folk musician. He bought the timber for the con-­‐ struction on the other side of Lake Åre. It is said that every day he took his tools to chop and saw, and skied home when the failing daylight end-­‐ ed his day’s work. It was not until the year 1940 that the house was com-­‐ plete.

ơ and evening entertainment, includ-­‐ ing dancing. It is said that a dread-­‐ ful accident delayed construction. “It was a cold October day. I had Ƥ nothing had happened. I was wear-­‐ ing new woollen mittens which were pulled into the saw blade. The four Ƥ there”. The village shoemaker had to sew a leather glove with a strap on the inside of the hand, and with the use of his thumb he could then continue to hold his violin bow, his paintbrushes and cutlery.


In the 19Ƙƌ century, schooling was given in premises made available on ơ Ǥ % school there appears to have been a similar building as early as 1852. When the state introduced 7-­‐year schooling, more space was needed, and the red wooden building was constructed, which you can see here today. Many children also lived in the school building: in 1882 there were 33. The school also had other uses, for example as overnight accommoda-­‐ tion for priests, for drinking beer af-­‐ Ƥ Ƥ ǡ Ƥ Ǥ The brick building dates back to 1951, and a few years later a com-­‐ bined gym, assembly hall and cin-­‐ ema was built. In 1991 a further ex-­‐ tensive addition was constructed for the catering school. In addition to the catering school there are here today 100 pupils from preschool to Year 4. Higher classes go to school in Duved.

The photograph on the right shows Ho-­‐ % ǡ ƪ ǡ left you can glimpse Societetspaviljon-­‐ gen (the Society Pavilion).

23. Åregården

Kristina Hansson here started the Ƥ % Ǥ began with a simple guesthouse in the form of Åre Restaurant , but expansion soon followed when Kris-­‐ tina built Hotell Åreskutan. It was a beautiful white Swiss-­‐style building with 18 rooms and was ceremonially opened in 1895. Soon it was time to expand operations again and Kristi-­‐ na replaced the Åre Restaurant with Societetspaviljongen (The Society Pavilion). The same year, station inspector Wettergren opened Grand Hotel. Their rivalry was intense. To help her, Kristina had a Belgian named Sebast, whose accomplish-­‐ ments in the kitchen increased the renown of the place. The fact that Kristina and the handsome Sebast lived together without being mar-­‐ 19

ried gave Wettergren sleepless nights. To this day, one is impressed at the idea of a single woman run-­‐ Ǥ Ƥ -­‐ cially successful, but she did build Ƥ % ǡ still operating in Åre. In 1917 the Stockholm restaura-­‐ teur Agnar Meurling took over Ho-­‐ tell Åreskutan and Societetspavil-­‐ jongen. The architect Karl Güettler be-­‐ gan an ambitious conversion and extension which gave the hotel the character of an 18th-­‐century manor, as we see it today. Meurling had a keen interest in art and he invited the masters of the day to decorate the hotel. When the hotel was re-­‐ opened in 1919, it was re-­‐named Hotell Åregården.

24. Hemslöjdshuset

25. Peak-huset

This house was built in 1886 as a trading house by Johan Mårtens-­‐ son, a farmer’s son from Åre. He used the designs intended for the train station building. Five years later he built another trading house on the opposite side of the street, This house was demolished in 1959 and replaced by the large Torghuset, which houses among other things Dahlbom’s restaurant.


Peak-­‐huset (Peak Performance House) was built in the 1920s. Here, the Sámi photographer Nils Thomasson opened a shop and photographic studio. His daughter Britta Nilsson later took over the business and started selling clothes, souvenirs and sports equipment. The house has been extended and altered several times. On the photography below you see Peak Performance House furthest to the right. In the foreground a spade rid-­‐ ing competition is going on – the contestants balancing on the metal blade of the spade.

Åre torg

Now you are back at Åre Torg (Åre Square) where you began your tour through the history of Åre. This is where your journey in time and space ends. It passed through an Åre with its roots in a farming community and a future as an inter-­‐ national tourist metropolis. Here, in the very heart of Åre, you see the year rings of the village’s tourism, ơ Ǥ In this context, Åre old church and Totten village give a concrete and well needed historical depth to Åre. Åre and the Åre Valley have changed enormously since the beginning of the 20th century. Despite the big changes, the visitor’s image of the Åre Valley today and a hundred years ago are in a way identical. It is an image of Åre that shows the contrast between a rural near-­‐Alpine farming landscape and a pulsating modern tourist community at the foot of the mountains.


around the historic buildings of Åre. The map in the mid-­‐ dle of the brochure and the brown signposts will help you on your walk. ͸͹ͷ

Historic houses A family friendly stroll around the centre of Åre on ǡ ƪ Ǥ ǣ ͛͘Ǧ͘͞ Ǥ ơ ǣ ͛͠ Ǥ ǣ ͙Ǥ͠ Ǥ Start/end: Åre Square.


Historic houses long A slightly longer walk through the cultural history of Åre. Mostly on asphalt and gravel roads. Duration: 1–2 hours. ơ ǣ ͜͠ Ǥ ǣ ͛Ǥ͟ Ǥ Ȁ ǣ Åre Square. Thanks to the Nils Thomasson Family Association for per-­‐ mission to use Nils Thomasson’s pictures. This guide has been produced by Åre Village and Tourist Association and ÅRE Destination. www.arebyturistforening.se w ww.aredestination.com


HISTORIC HOUSES IN ÅRE is a guide to two itineraries

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