Just a few years ago, one of the most prominent houses on Haapsalu's main street was in a sorry state. But, after falling in love with the property, which was previously home to two of the city's mayors, Michael Harter from Germany, has now given it a whole new lease of life.
Harter confessed, that he had fallen in love with the house long before he bought and renovated it. "I photographed it every summer and it never really occurred to me that I could buy it. I just fell in love with the place," he said.
After seeing the house remain vacant for five years, Harter realized, that if he didn't fix it up, probably no one would.
The house that Harter restored is not only nice to look at, but also has historical significance for the city of Haapsalu. Originally completed in 1905, during its lifetime the house has been home to two of the city's mayors.
The plot of land on which the house is located was first owned by Fanny, the wife of Aleksander Eldring, the first mayor to live there. As result, it has now been named "Villa Fannyhof" in her honor.
Harter explained, that when restoring the property, he wanted to avoid a situation where it could not be enjoyed by the residents of Haapsalu. So, he created the "Mayor's Salon" (Linnapea Salong) in the house, which contains a permanent exhibition telling the story of the building, as well as the history of Haapsalu. The aim is for the salon to become the center of the local community and introduce visitors to the history of the city.
Accommodation is also available at the villa.
According to Harter, people in Haapsalu have responded extremely positively to his initiative to restore the house. "Everybody is so grateful that somebody took on and saved this house," he said. "I haven't received any negative reactions."
Editor: Michael Cole