Andropoff Villa complex given cultural monument status by state

The holiday complex of the ministers of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic (ESSR) has been declared a cultural monument despite the wishes of the building's owners.

The Valgeranna holiday complex in Pärnu County, known as Andropoff Villa, has been declared a cultural monument, which gives it state protection, by Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas.

The Ministry of Culture proposed that the complex's main building, cinema and game house and sauna house should be given heritage status in 2012 when Estonia's important 20th-century architecture was mapped.

The National Heritage Board pointed out that the complex is a complete example of the architectural style of architects Raine Karb, Meeli Truu, Taevo Gans and Sulev Vahtra. The complex also has historical value due to the role of it's occupants in the history of the ESSR.

During the Soviet era, the main purpose of the complex was a relaxation residence for top party officials. It had four suites, workrooms and a large reception hall. The complex was established for the members of the ESSR Council of Ministers' nomenclature and their guests.

The board believes the building meets the preconditions for national protection, as these are high-class buildings of architectural significance in Estonian history. They are largely preserved as authentic. Similar buildings are currently not protected and only Tallinn City Hall, Paide Culture House and the National Library have been given protected status.

The main building of the complex is in good condition and is used as a hotel, which can continue after being recognized as a monument. The state of the cinema-game house is generally satisfactory, while the sauna-house is in good condition.

The decisions process also involved hearing the views of the owners. The complex's main building and cinema-game house are owned by OÜ Andropoff, while the owner of the sauna-house is Rax Invest OÜ. Heritage conservationists and the owners have clashed repeatedly over the years but neither side has changed its views. 

The owners think the designation was unjustified and the expert judgment contained false claims and errors. They also thought the buffer zone around the property was too large.

The National Heritage Board said the architectural value of the buildings is a well-known fact. However, they also agreed to reduce the extent of the protection zone around the building and said the owners are not required to preserve, restore and reconstruct the interior of the building's rooms. 

Last year, Pärnu City Government also do not support the cultural status designation but Taevo Gans, a co-designer of the buildings and interior architect, does.

The ministerial order may be challenged in court within 30 days of its publication in the Riigi Teataja.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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