Some old houses

Sandviken, Västanvik, Nämdö

This is Sandviken on the island of Nämdö in the Stockholm archipelago. The photo is taken from the ice a sunny day in the early spring of 1996. The old part of the house is a timbered cottage which was enlarged to the current appearance around 1890. Among people living today, little was known about the house. Somebody thought it had always been standing here as a part of an old croft. Local story-tellers said that the parson lived in the house before or after the time when the Russians burnt down the whole archipelago in 1719. It was also told that the parson's house and the church was not actually burnt down. So, can this be ...?

A map from 1865 originating from the partition of the manorial estate Östanvik at Nämdö showed no houses at all here. But there has always been a question if the house was excluded from the map because it was privately owned and did not part in the partition.

In the attic we can see the adjacent room in the old mansard superstructure as a separate building inside the house.

Our dendrochronological analysis revealed timber logged in 1748, 1769, 1867 and 1893.
    When considering where the samples were taken in the house we conclude that
  • the major part of the house was built by loggs from 1769.
  • the house was moved to this place in 1867.
  • logs from 1748 are replacements of decayed logs inserted when the house was re-erected here. The 1748 loggs probably come from the old mansion at Östanvik which was built around 1750 and was dismounted around 1865 and distributed among the heirs.
  • the house was enlarged in 1893 probably with the intension to let the house to summer visitors, the new way at that time to get some ready money.

Probably this has never been the parson's house in old time, though it has been standing at the old place of the parson's house at Nämdö.

Complicated? Yes, but it takes down a lot of local historical speculations to more of reality.

A more detailed article about the house and the dating is available in Swedish.

Bergvik, Nämdö

This is August Jansson with his wife and daughter. The photo was taken by the schoolteacher, Axel Funke, probably around 1908. August Jansson was the sexton at the church of Nämdö for 60 years. In the background you can see his house.
In 1998 a new owner decided to repair the house. But the house was found to be in very bad condition with extensive old attacks of house longhorn beetle and of the smaller Annobium punctatum. So the owner decided to demolish the house. A new similar house was built on the same place.

I took a lot of samples from the old house. They were infested with mildew and very unhealthy to work with! The dendrochonological analysis revealed that the house was built by logs cut in the winter season 1875/76.

This fits in with the local history. The old church at Nämdö was located quite a long way from here. A new church was opened near this place in 1876, the same year as this house was built for the sexton.

The old school house, Sand/Grönvik, Nämdö

The school children outside the old school house at Nämdö 1908.
The history of the old school house was not known at Nämdö some years ago. Old friends of mine knew that the school started here around 1870. But if the house was built for the school or not was completely unknown. There was a house at this place in 1865 when the manorial estate Östanvik was partitioned. Was it the same house? What was the history behind the house?

A dendrochronological analysis by Lars Löfstrand in Uppsala revealed that the house was built with logs cut in the winter 1869/70. So this was obviously built as a school house, though it was quickly found to be too small. Building of still a new bigger school house started around 1908.

Kaptensudden, Västanvik, Nämdö

When I was a kid I spent my summers at Västanvik on the island of Nämdö. We lived in this house. All houses at Västanvik had different names. This was called Kaptensudden - the Captains Point. There was a small kitchen and a room in an older timbered part of the house but also an extra room that had been added. It was rumoured that the house had been moved here over the ice from Skärvassa, a croft on the other side of Nämdö sometime at the end of the nineteenths century. Sometimes we dreamt that it was a really old house which survived "the Russian fire" of 1719 when most houses in the archipelago were burnt down by Russian troops.
At an inspection before a coming renovation or demolition of the house it was found that the timber was of different origin. Part of it looked new, part of it looked very old.

When the house was demolised one year later, I took a number of samples for dating.

Results of the dating:
    The youngest sample (log) is sawn lengthwise. It was cut in the winter 1895/96. This probably means that the extra room was added to the house in 1896 or 1897.

    Most samples (17) come from logs which were cut in the winter 1870/71. These logs did not grew like timber from Nämdö. They can however easily be dated towards a reference curve from Nämdö. Probably these logs come from the mainland or from another part of the archipelago.

    In addition to this I have found

  • one log from Nämdö dated to 1856
  • one log from Nämdö dated to 1860, both with bark surface (wane).
  • two probably reused logs from Nämdö (from an older building) where sapwood is cut away and where the outer parts correspond to the years 1787 and 1779. I cannot determine how much sapwood was cut away. Perhaps these logs come from a house built around 1820.

The selection of logs for sampling was limited by the fact that most logs were in bad condition because of woodworm and decay.

All wood in the outer walls had a silver lustre saying that probably the house had been standing some years without covering boards.

All datings are reliable. The dated ring width measurements have all been delivered to the ITRDB (swed303.rwl).

Speculating on two possible scenarios

Alternative 1: The house was built at Västanvik 1871 with logs bought from elsewhere.
The tale saying that the house was taken from Skärvassa may come from that some logs were taken from a then 50 year old barn at Skärvassa. In 1896 an extra room was added to make the house more suitable for renting to summer visitors.

Alternative 2: The story about a man, Melander, living on the island of Tjeckskär North of Skärvassa is the basis of the Skärvassa tale.
Perhaps Melander built his house in 1871 with logs bought from elsewhere.
He could not buy logs from Nämdö, because all available wood was needed when building the new farms on the island. He also used logs from an old barn he already had. Later on the house was moved to Västanvik because its owner died and the house was standing on ground belonging to the Västanvik farm. In 1896 the extra room was added.

Possibly we can check the parish register to see if there was actually a man living on Tjeckskär - and when he died. Something which makes things difficult is that the name Melander is connected to Tjeckskär/Skärvassa as well as to the house Sandviken at Västanvik and also to Grönvik. Perhaps there were more than one Melander living on Nämdö at this time.

To sum up, we have not yet found a really reliable story about this house!

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