The history of Villa Sandviken

Villa Sandviken offers a glimpse into the Finnish summer villa and restaurant culture history starting from the 1840s, before the fire of Old Vaasa in 1852. Visitor groups of Villa Sandviken can order a guided history tour given by Vaasa guides. During the tour visitors gets to know more about the valuable and eventful history of the villa building and the parkland areas.

On this page you can familiarize yourself with the history of the building and the area on your own before your visit.

E.A.Lundgren, 1850, Museovirasto, Historian kuvakokoelma

End of the 18th century

The Swedish villa culture of the upper class reaches Finland as the first summer villas are built in Vaasa region.

The beginning of the 19th century

In 1800, a piece of land named Sandvik was split from the large family farmyard located in the Klemetsö village. In the 1820s the land was divided between two brothers, Gabriel Sandvik and Simon Mattson Sandvik.


Vaasa town doctor, Fredrik Sanmark (1798–1886), an enthusiastic gardener who also took care of the town gardener's work, rented the area in 1835 and built there a summer villa and the first park.


Sanmark moved to Turku and sold the villa to Carl Johan Boy, Assessor at Vaasa Court of Appeal. Boy built a new villa in 1846 – the current Hietalahti’s Villa. The villa was designed by J.A. Linder, a multitalented priest and amateur architect from Umeå, Sweden.


After the Vaasa town fire, more people were permanently accommodated in the villa. There were disputes about the location of the new town, and when the move to Cape Klemetsö was finally sealed, the town leased the expropriated land and plot to its former owner, C. J. Boy, for 25 years. The Villa was also used for example as a courthouse in the years following the town fire.


C. J. Boy resigned from the office of the Court of Appeal and moved permanently to the Villa during his retirement years. Boy was an avid traveller and died in 1868 in Stockholm. His sole heir, colonel Mrs. A. Wasastjerna, stayed at her estate in southern Finland during the summers and rented the Villa to townspeople and relatives, such as the family Tegengren.


1874 cellarmaster Holmberg rented the Villa as a summer restaurant. However, relatives still lived in the Villa and the poet Jacob Tegengren was born there in 1875.


The lease agreement for the Villa plot ended in 1883. The city redeemed the buildings and rented them to restaurateurs. The first city tenant in the Villa was cellarmaster Alexander Ernst.


The Villa Park established itself as a venue for large folk celebrations. The location outside the city, solemnly at the end of Kauppapuistikko, made it possible to organize spectacular parades and processions from the centre towards the Villa. Important Finnish and international names in art and culture, such as Jean Sibelius, Zacharias Topelius, Robert Kajanus, Armas Järnefelt and Anna Pavlova, visited Villa as performers and audience.

20th century

Several nationally important events were also organized in the Villa park in the early years of the 20th century, such as the meeting of constitutionalists in 1905 and the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of J. V. Snellman in 1906.

Kansankokous Vaasan Hietalahden puistossa

Museovirasto, Historian kuvakokoelma

J.V.Snellmanin 100-vuotismuistojuhla Vaasassa

Karls Atelier, 1906, Museovirasto, Historian kuvakokoelma


Cellarmaster Avelin built a summer theatre in the park in 1910, which was a beautiful Jugend style building and was located on the west side of the Villa, on the beach embankment right next to the stone pier.


In 1922, a big accident happened in the Hietalahti Park, when the city's popular summer theatre burned to the ground. The signs of the fire can still be seen on some of the trees near the beach in nowadays Villa Park.

Kesateatterilla Hietalahdessa

Museovirasto, Historian kuvakokoelma

Museovirasto, Historian kuvakokoelma

From the 1930s onwards

Hietalahti's Villa had achieved a solid position as the city's most popular summer restaurant. Hietalahti’s Villa was completely renovated and reopened to the public before the Winter War, in May 1939. The Villa maintained its position as one of the most popular restaurants in the city for a long time, even after the wars. After the construction of the motorway, Villa lost its popularity and permanent restaurant operations ended in 1972.

However, Hietalahti's Villa and park retained its status as a summer recreation area for the townspeople. City residents and tourist were brought to the place by the Brage Open-Air Museum, a summer theatre and also new Sister City parklands located on the northern edge of the Villa Park. The Villa was rented by the city as an event venue for various occasions.

After a thorough renovation by the new owner, Hietalahti’s Villa was re-opened as a restaurant again in 2017.

Sources: Höglund, Kaj (2022) Hietalahden Villa ja Puisto. Pohjanmaan museo; Sundqvist, Lars, Järvinen, Petteri & Hietamäki, Lauri (1992) Hietalahti Sandviken – Kaupunginosa Vaasassa – Historiikki 1350-1992. Oy Fram Ab; Viljanen Rossi, Ruusa (2014) Hietalahden villa ja Bragen alue: Kulttuuriympäristöselvitys 2014. Pohjanmaan museo. Kuvat: Museovirasto, Historian kuvakokoelma.