The Suur-Merijoki manor – a Jugend jewel

The Suur-Merijoki manor is the star of an exhibition opening at Museum Milavida, at Näsilinna Palace, on 13 February. It shows visitors the story of the manor and its unique objects: furniture, decorative items, sculptures, architectural plans, and photographs from the collections both of museums in Tampere and elsewhere and of private individuals.

A high-profile home in the rural part of Vyborg

The Suur-Merijoki manor, in the rural area of Vyborg, was a jewel of Art Nouveau architecture and the most public home of its time in Finland. It featured in magazines in Finland and abroad and was highly acclaimed for its architectural merits. Its owner, St-Petersburg-based businessman Maximilian Neuscheller, had bought the Suur-Merijoki estate in 1900 and hired a promising trio of Finnish architects to design a summer villa for his family, to be built there.
These young architects – Herman Gesellius, Armas Lindgren, and Eliel Saarinen – had already proved their skills by, for example, designing Finland’s pavilion for the Exposition Universelle of 1900, held in Paris. Now they were given the assignment of designing a perfect, luxurious Art Nouveau home, including all furniture and textiles that would adorn the manor. The work was done by a team of renowned artisans and artists, who completed the manor in 1903.

The manor’s architecture was influenced by elements from Gothic castles and the Middle Ages: it had turrets, plinths and walls of natural stone, and tapered windows. The main entrance was as magnificent as the grand entry to a church.
The building was famous for its large cross-vaulted hall, which was similar to the nave of a church and its lower side chapels. From the hall there was access in all directions, but this wasn’t a through-passage – the hall space formed the centre of all activities in the home. It served as a grand hall, a dining room and a lounge.

The manor becomes ruins

Max Neuscheller died in 1919, after the Russian Revolution. The rest of the family fled to Finland and stayed in the Suur-Merijoki area. The manor was sold to the Finnish state in 1927 and was used by the nation’s Air Force until 1939. The main building served as an officers’ club.
The manor was razed almost to the ground during the Continuation War (1941–44), but some of the movables had been removed and sent to Finland earlier. In 1944, the area where the manor stood was ceded to the Soviet Union. Today, only mossy ruins remind us of its former glory.

We invite you to the museum to learn about the Suur-Merijoki manor and marvel at its unique arterfacts. The exhibition opens at Museum Milavida on 13 February 2016.