Watermills in Kainuu Region
Tyrvää St. Olaf’s Church is thought to have been built at the beginning of the 16th century, possibly between 1506–1516. The church was initially Catholic, but following the Reformation, the congregation became Lutheran shortly after the building was completed.
During the centuries several changes were made inside the church, but the interior mainly dated from the 17th and 18th centuries. The church was in active use by the congregation until 1855 when a new church was built in Tyrvää, and St Olaf’s Church was left vacant.Towards the end of the 20th century, St Olaf’s church became a popular wedding church, and the value of the church was rediscovered. With an increasing interest in the church renovations were made, including a large restoration of the 18th century shingle roof, originally designed by Antti Piimänen. Volunteers completed the work, including hand-carved 17,000 aspen shingles for the roof. The renovation was finished in 1997, but later the same year in September the church was almost entirely destroyed by arson.
Shortly after the fire, a decision was taken to rebuild the church. Architect Ulla Rahola was chosen to design the reconstruction and restoration of the church, the plans being made in close coordination with the National Board of Antiquities. The objective was not to fully reconstruct the previous interior but to re-establish the prior to the fire ambience. Volunteers were again called to the building work. Over the following years (1997 – 2003) more than 1000 volunteers participated in the building process, with a small core group of volunteers working every day. Reconstruction of the exterior was finished in the autumn of 2000 and building of the interior started the same year. The rebuilding was finished in 2003.
Today the style of the exterior is still very similar to the original medieval church, with a shingle roof reconstructed to the appearance of the 18th century roof. Artists Kuutti Lavonen and Osmo Rauhala created the new artwork of the church.
Source: Finnish Architectural Review 4/2004