The manor had seen war, and hosted wounded soldiers. It had survived a siege and arrest of a rebel after being stripped of its handsome garden statuettes. When nobody cared about the past, and the future was spearheaded by the Olympics, somebody had the grand idea of clearing the Helsinki streets of drunkards and shooing them into the manor. Out of sight is out of mind, except for the house that diligently cared for them for forty years.
Two decades later the house cares for those who wish to escape, or gather, or simply breathe. Opening the creaking door I discovered a room more like a salon. Oh! the oriental rugs, the heavy chinz, the enormous crystal chandelier! And yet, how newly it all had been restored. Sinking down on the downy bed I stared out of the window, over the lawn towards the stream floating by. Garrison, hospital, drunk ward – in the storm of progress the appreciation of the past is often waved away. When space was the new tomorrow in the 1960s, all hardwood floors were covered with linoleum and everything that reminded of days gone by was swiftly cleared away.
Time, as we perceive it, only moves forward, but there is a major change in the third-millennial minds compared to the Atomic Age. We preserve traditions, restore old houses, and attempt to return to nature and pure values. I could not help but wonder: in this ever-accelerating world of ours, where technology races alongside science and our greedy minds, when, and how, did we end up appreciating the past, legacy, and crystal chandeliers?
(Hirvihaara manor, Mäntsälä, Finland; September 2014)