Prime Minister's Official Residence

Kesäranta

The building of Kesäranta was completed in 1873 and the villa was originally given the name Bjälbo. Kesäranta is situated in Meilahti, which at that time lay outside the city of Helsinki.

 

At first, Kesäranta was the summer villa of architect Frans Ludvig Calonius who had designed the building. Kesäranta was purchased by the State in 1904 to serve as the summer residence for Russian Governor Generals. Over the past years, Kesäranta has become known as the Prime Minister’s Official Residence.

 

Villa for Governor Generals

 

Initially Kesäranta was a two-storey wooden building with a square floor plan. In 1887, the villa was acquired by Carl Robert Ignatius, a cashier at the Bank of Finland, who had master builder Elia Heikel design among other things a 20-metre tower and seaside veranda which were added to the building.

 

Room downstairs

Room downstairs

At that time, Nikolai Bobrikov served as Russian Governor General in Finland and his harsh policy of Russification was met with broad resistance by the Finnish people. The Senate Finance Department, predecessor of the Government, conducted the actual sale to the State in secrecy. No mention of it appears in meeting minutes of the time.

 

Architect Johan Jacob Ahrenberg was commissioned to make the necessary changes to the building and its furnishings. A new kitchen wing was attached to the main building and a glazed veranda was built on to the side of the building facing the sea.

 

It is unlikely that Bobrikov lived in Kesäranta before his assassination but the succeeding Governor Generals, Obolenski, Gerard, Boeckmann and Seyn, did take up residence in the house. After the Finnish Civil War in 1918, both the German Commander von der Goltz and, a little bit later, General Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim lived there briefly.

 

Prime Minister's Official Residence

 

Kesäranta veranda

Kesäranta veranda

Since Finland gained independence, Kesäranta has served as the Prime Minister’s Official Residence.

 

In the summertime, the Finnish Government holds its informal evening sessions, better known as evening school, at Kesäranta. These take place on Wednesday evenings and date back to the latter part of the 1930s, when Prime Minister Cajander adopted the practice of inviting ministers to Kesäranta to discuss and prepare matters to be handled in the Government plenary session on Thursday.

 

A thorough renovation of the main building took place in the 1950s and again between 1981 and 1983. At the same time, a town plan protecting old buildings was applied to the area.

 

As to the appearance of the villa itself, the main building was restored to look as it did at the beginning of the century. This necessitated rebuilding the tower and veranda, which had been pulled down in the 1950s.

 

Kesäranta jetty

Kesäranta jetty

The renovation work that took place between 2003 and 2004 focused on refurbishing the interior and improving the functionality of the building. The ceilings of the basement rooms were raised and the press room was extended and changed to be adaptable for various functions. The former accommodation rooms on the first floor were altered to better meet the demands of private living. At the same time, the wear to the building brought about by continuous use and harsh weather conditions was repaired.

 

The courtyard of Kesäranta includes a seaside sauna, maintenance building, guard’s house, pavilion, jetty and tennis court.