Room image

Western chamber

The western chamber with embroidered curtains by the doorway is one of the house’s many bedrooms – or chambers, as they are called at Pellas. There are four bedrooms – or chambers as we at Pellas call them – downstairs, and two in the attic. ...

More than one generation – up to three at times – had to get along under the same roof. Older family members lived in the western part of the house, and younger members lived in the eastern part of the house. The western part was also rented to summer guests when half of the house was empty. The house was shared after Irene Eriksson’s death, and Erik Petter’s grandson, Peder Eriksson, bought Pellas’ western part at an auction in 1956.

Peder and his wife, Mary, slept in this room when they visited from America, where they had moved. The western chamber served as their temporary kitchen. Thanks to Peder Eriksson, his childhood home of Pellas became a museum at the beginning of the 1990s. The other part of the house was owned by Peder’s nephew, Rey Eriksson, who, together with his family, took care of the house when his uncle was away. From Rey’s death estate, Peder made a deal regarding Pellas’ other half at the beginning of the 1990s and donated the house to be used as a museum in 1992.

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.

Pellas becomes a museum

Finland-Swedish Ulla-Lena Lundberg’s Leo was published in 1989. The book is about the Ålandian schooner Leo, built in Sideby in 1870, and people related to the vessel. The book is mainly set on the “Simons” and “Eskils” farms in Granboda – which in reality are Pellas and Hansas – and tells about the people on these farms. This is the beginning of Ålandian museum history. In the book, the “Simons” farm – Pellas in reality – is an unoccupied house waiting to be awoken from sleep. Leo aroused interest in Ålandian sailing and set in motion the idea of establishing a museum.

The Shipmaster’s Homestead Pellas is a memorial to the Ålandian seafaring period. This form of seafaring is called peasant seafaring. The period extended from around the 1850s to the end of the First World War. During this period, farmers invested in cargo ship sailing and put money, with varying success, into increasingly larger sailing ships. As an indication of success, new grand main buildings were built on farms. These buildings were commonly called shipmaster’s homesteads and were especially popular in Lemland and Värdö, the biggest seafaring municipalities in Åland at the time. The farmers of Pellas also had a new, spacious house built on the Pellas farm – a house that probably became the biggest shipmaster’s homestead in Åland.

On 25 May 1992, Peder Eriksson donated Pellas to the Åland Maritime Museum. Peder was the last of the Eriksson siblings to grow up on the Pellas farm at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. The deed of gift was signed in Herzogin Cecilie’s beautiful captain’s saloon in the Åland Maritime Museum. Peder’s brother Sven Eriksson had been the vessel’s captain. The Åland Maritime Museum’s condition for the gift was that an organisation should be founded for maintaining the farm. Later that year, an association called Skeppargården Pellas r.f. was founded. After that, the Åland Maritime Museum transferred the farm and its possessions to the new association, and in 1995, the museum opened its doors.