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Welcome to the Shipmaster’s Homestead Pellas!

Formerly, the main entrance on the road side was used only in the summertime and at parties. The present porch was originally very small and dark, and it had two rooms. ...

Today, as you enter the porch, you step into a big, bright room with stairs going up to an attic on the right side. The porch has entrances to the drawing room and the main room, which also serves as a café room. The small door leads into toilet facilities.

Pellas was likely the first house in Lemland to have a bathroom with cold and warm running water, a water closet, and a bath with lion claw feet. A person who had been to Pellas’ water closet and “pulled the chain” was respected in the district. The small toilet in the hallway was not built until after the fire in 2005, and the entrance leading to the drawing room was moved to its original place. The following excerpt describes the bathroom, which was modern at the time, that Sven and Pamela built when they moved to the farm in the late 1930s.

Such a stir it was in the house, what with the alterations and the coming of Christmas, that one almost expected Erik and August to walk in and demand their dinner. Both of them would have been horrified at the blasting of bedrock beside the front door, where a septic tank had somehow to be inserted a metre below the surface to ensure against winter freezing. But finally, when the bathroom and water closet were a reality and we could sit enthroned without having our bottom frozen blue (which was the special quality of the commodious outside privy they had once been so proud of), I felt sure that they, too, would have rejoiced in this splendour for their beloved Pellas.

Pamela Eriksson in her book The Duchess: The Life and Death of the Herzogin Cecilie.

Magnificent shipmaster’s homestead Pellas

The Pellas main building is impressive. The house is 21.5 metres in length and 11 metres in width. The downstairs living area is 250 square metres. In some of the downstairs rooms, the ceiling height is over three metres. The building also has a large, open attic. The current main building was built by shipowner Erik Petter Eriksson in 1884. The Pellas farm was owned by the Eriksson seafaring and farmer family from the 1670s to the 1990s, when the farm was turned into a museum.

The Pellas main building is one of the biggest shipmaster’s homesteads in Åland. Pellas was built relatively late for a shipmaster’s homestead; most shipmaster’s homesteads in Åland were built between 1850 and 1880. When Pellas was completed in 1884, the golden age of peasant seafaring was already over. When Pellas was under construction, the grand Andersas farm in the neighbourhood had been completed for over 20 years.

These two seafaring families have always competed with each other. It is said that Pellas was built one tier of logs higher and a couple of metres longer than Andersas, which, in turn, is wider than Pellas. It was important to Erik Petter for his house to be bigger. The new main building of Pellas was the last shipmaster’s homestead in the village, and it took several years to build. Erik Petter was already 62 years old when the new and impressive house was completed. This is how Pamela Eriksson describes the competition between the two neighbouring farms:

Pellas närmaste granne var Andersas, som också var en ark fast i något mindre skala. Andersas var i varje fall nästan lika imponerande. Faktiskt var det just för att granngården var så pampig som Pellas hade blivit ännu pampigare.

Pamela Eriksson in her book The Duchess: The Life and Death of the Herzogin Cecilie.

Ålandian shipmaster’s homestead

During the second half of the 19th century, seafaring influenced the Ålandian cultural landscape to a considerable extent. Due to the increased income along with seafaring, farmers could build bigger houses. Bigger houses were status symbols and permanent proof of a shipowner’s wealth and success. Shipmasters and shipowners also reformed the Ålandian agricultural society; they modernised ways of living in a society that otherwise were traditional and conservative. 

Beginning in the mid-1800s when the farmers’ seafaring changed from domestic use to more organised cargo traffic, farmers could afford to enlarge and improve their old and old-fashioned houses. In addition to Pellas, the village of Granboda contains four other shipmasters’ homesteads: Andersas (Pellas’ closest neighbour), Nedergårds, Hansas, and Kallas. Pellas is one of the biggest and most magnificent farms remaining in Åland.