Why would a family in London find a derelict house in rural Norway for sale, thinking it would be a great idea to buy it to use every holiday and spare time to restore it to its former glory?
The house was on the market for over a year before we finally decided to put a bid in. What really persuaded us in the end would be the history of the house. What it once was.
Villa Wessel was build in 1898 by Halvor Halvorsen, a local man that had returned to the mountain village in Trysil after a successful military career in the capital. With a little bit of money he was able to not only get married and have a family but also set up their dream home.
The house was purpose-build, to serve as a family home as well as being the village store. The store would sell everything from groceries to hardware.
The areas first telephone exchange was also in the house. The phone was even once used by the King and the Prime Minister of Norway, during Second World War when they were escaping the germans.
Other well know people visiting was the explorer Amundsen who would sometimes stay during his trips to the wilderness that surrounds the village.
The house changed ownership in the late 50s, to a elderly couple who lived in parts of the house but didn’t do much to maintain the house. It then went to a relative in Sweden in early 80s. For the last 30-40 years the house was more or less empty and the the building and property was in a rather sad state when we discovered it for sale.
We bought the house in February 2017 and have since then been working on restoring it, to its former glory.
So far we’ve emptied the house, stripped it down to the bare timber walls. We have replaced timber logs that was suffering from decay. The original roof from 1898 was leaking from several places. It had to be removed completely and build it back up again, in the traditional way. In total, we laid 16.000 wood shingles, each fastened by hand with one nail.
In addition, we’ve restored the entrances that was in a worse for wear condition. We still have a little bit of paintwork to do but that will have to happen when the weather permits, in Spring. This will be in addition to the restoration of twenty original windows. We are also hoping to start rebuilding the house’s interior as well – in 2020.