Norway's tallest wooden house is located in Arendal. Built as a private residence between 1812-15, it is today a national heirloom.
Norway's tallest wooden house. Built as a private residence between 1812-15. The Kallevig family moved into their magnificent new house on a beautiful spring day in May 1815, after four years of planning and building. Despite war, blockade and famine, the Kallevigs were able to put up one of the largest and most splendid private houses in the country.
Mr and Mrs Kallevig furnished their house in the most exquisite taste, most pieces imported from abroad on Mr Kallevig's own ships, and everything in the contemporary empire style. Unfortunately the only original items left in the house today are the five beautiful cut glass chandeliers on the second floor; tradition will have that they were brought home from France.
The town hall is the first house in the Arendal district that we know for certain was designed by an architect, Mr Bonsach Jessen of Copenhagen, formerly Arendal. His plans were for a small castle in sandstone, but Mr Kallevig insisted on local material, lumber of the best quality normally only used for masts on sailships.
In 1844 Mrs Kallevig, then a widow for some years, sold her house to the municipality of Arendal for only 8 000 "speciedaler" - the currency at that time, about NOK 32 000 kroner. Consequently the house was the center of the town's administration for more than 160 years up until 2005 when the new town hall was completed and ready to take over.
The house is a national heirloom and subject to strict regulations today. Still it is not a museum, but a living and thriving place for those who have their daily work here, and maybe more so for those who rent the beautiful second floor for weddings, concerts, balls, receptions and meetings.
During the summer season the house is open to the public on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and a guide is stationed there. Free entrance.