Gallery: State wants to protect resort complex of Estonian Soviet leaders ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

The Minister of Culture is recommending that the former Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic (ESSR) holiday resort, known as Villa Andropoff, be declared a cultural monument but the owners are opposed to the suggestion.

It is proposed that the main building of the former ESSR Council of Ministers' Holiday Complex, a cinema-game house and a sauna-holiday house are to be recognized as cultural monuments, as well as the area surrounding the buildings, ERR wrote (link in Estonian).

The proposal for the protection of the complex, near Pärnu, was made by the National Heritage Board after they mapped and analyzed valuable Estonian 20th-century architecture (1870–1991) in 2012. In 2018, the Minister for Culture made the same proposal to the Heritage Council.

The main buildings of the Valgeranna Holiday Complex, the cinema-game house and the sauna-holiday house were considered to be of great architectural and cultural importance. The draft ministerial order states that these buildings represent Soviet-style nomenklatura architecture. Although changes have been made to the buildings over the years, they are not so large as to undermine the architecture.

In addition, experts say these buildings are of significant importance to the history of Estonia. There are no similar examples of early postmodernism among current building monuments, the draft ministerial directive states.

According to experts, the buildings of Valgeranna Holiday Center are one of the most valuable and distinctive architectural works of the Soviet era in Estonia. The three buildings are also considered excellent examples of the most innovative creative periods of architects Raine Karb (main building), Meeli Truu (cinema-game house) and Taevo Gans (sauna-holiday house), representing interpretations of the ideas of postmodernism.

The National Heritage Board believes the building heritage of the Soviet period is largely unconscious, undervalued, and unprotected.

Owners are against restrictions

The main building and the cinema-game house are owned by OÜ Andropoff, the sauna-holiday house is owned by Rax Invest OÜ. The main building and the sauna-holiday house are in active use, the first has a hotel and restaurant, the second is rented out to those who wish to organize events. The cinema-game house is not currently in active use.

Both private companies are, in one way or another, opposed to the introduction of protective restrictions, because they believe that this would hinder development activities, such as making restrictions very difficult or even impossible to rebuild indoor and heating and ventilation systems.

Rax Invest, already stated in its 2015 application that the expert opinion of the National Heritage Board was inaccurate because the building had undergone significant alterations and the buffer zone was clearly too large. 

Audru rural municipality and Pärnu have also been against the protection of the complex. According to the city, the documents already established by the municipality ensure that the buildings will be preserved and that the complex will not need national protection.

During the Soviet era, the main residence of the Valgeranna complex was a beach residence of top parties and government officials, with four suites, work rooms and a large reception hall. The complex was established for the members of the ESSR Council of Ministers' nomenklatura and their guests, because of the need for recreational facilities and a representative place for informal meetings of the authorities. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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