The building of Villa Sandviken, or ”Hietalahden Villa” in the Hietalahti Park in Vaasa was completed in 1845. It was built for the contemporary high society who gathered together to spend their summers in the villa. Drinking songs filled the park when the cultural highbrow and important officials celebrated the summer. The Finnish poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg, composer Jean Sibelius, painter Eero Järnefelt and ballerina Anna Pavlova were among those who spend time in the villa. The colourful parties were amused with various kind of entertainment: from circus to theatrical performances and singing festivals. A memorial of those times, Totikivi or toddy stone, still stands in the Hietalahti park. It is said to have gotten its name from get-togethers around the stone, where the builder of the villa, Mr Boy, and his entourage kept company and knocked back toddy drinks, raised toasts and sang drinking songs.
The city of Vaasa owned Hietalahden Villa from 1880 onwards until Kiinteistö Oy Hietalahden Villa bought the place in 2016. The following year, the opening of restaurant Villa Sandviken ended the decades of quiet life for villa.
Carl Johan Boy, the assistant judge for the Court of Appeal, built Hietalahden Villa.
A big singing and music festival was held in the Hietalahti park. Writer Sakari Topelius was the guest of honour and among the performers were for instance the composers Jean Sibelius and Robert Kajanus and the painter Eero Järnefelt.
The handsome Villa Sandviken flourishes once again as the restaurant Villa Sandviken opens its doors on the 1st of May.
MERINGUE AS FLUFFY AS A TULLE SKIRT
Villa Sandviken has had many famous guests. One of them is the legendary Russian ballerina
Anna Pavlova. The creamy meringue cake named after the ballerina has been a favourite dessert around the world for decades. Pavlova served with fresh berries is also the star of Villa’s dessert menu.
The pavlova dessert is thought to have originated when Anna Pavlova was on tour in New Zealand. The chef of the hotel Pavlova lived in became infatuated with the ballerina and her tutu, decorated with green silk roses. He was so inspired by the dress and its bearer, that he came up with his own version of Pavlova’s tulle skirt: a fluffy meringue filled with whipped cream and kiwi.
There is also an interesting story behind Anna Pavlova’s visit to Vaasa. She is said to have been miserably in love with a certain actor, who was performing at the summer theatre next to the villa. When the ballerina was on tour in Stockholm she came all the way to Vaasa to search for the actor, and the son of a local market vendor took her to the Hietalahti park. In the end, the object of affection was found, but he did not return her feelings. The desperate ballet dancer decided to end her life and threw herself in the water. The vendor’s son found the tragic situation somewhat amusing, as the area was familiar to him and he knew that the water there was shallow.