Otava Publishing House
Aino and Oskar Kallas were important personalities in Finland-Estonian relations. Aino was a well-known Finnish writer and her husband was an Estonian diplomat. They started building their own home in Tartu in 1914 and commissioned the Finnish architect Valter Thomé (1874–1918) to design it.
The house has living spaces on two floors of which the upper one is characterized by the mansard roof. The architecture is in classical style with a symmetrical façade adorned with white pilasters and a gable. The house had modern conveniences that at the time were not so well known in Tartu, such as special sliding doors between the main parlour and dining hall. Furthermore, the main parlour had an open fireplace, a feature that was not yet common in Tartu.
There were some practical problems with the central heating, but the water system, assisted by a pump drawn by horses, functioned well.
The Kallas family furnished some of the spaces, in particular the main hall, with folkloristic furniture and other Estonian elements. The interiors of the house did not get completely finished before WWI broke out, but Mrs. Kallas has described it in one of her numerous books.
The career of the talented architect, Valter Thomé, tragically ended when, during the Finnish Civil War, he was murdered alongside two of his brothers.
Today, the house is in a very poor condition and in urgent need of repair.
Text: Tarja Nurmi