The history of the Kosola House, dating back to 1861, is exceptional. It is a story of strong entrepreneurs and educators, of the “knife junker” phenomenon of fighting and crime that plagued the area and of the local sheriffs who raised against it, of strong agriculture and the youth association movement, of emigration to America and pietism, of the Jaeger movement that had a decisive impact on Finland’s independence, and of the anti-communism, spirit of rebellion and strive to exert influence in the tumultuous first years of independence. 

It is a story of violence and stability, force and counter-force – the story of South Ostrobothnia.

History of The Kosola house

The Kosola House is a large, traditional Ostrobothnian peasant house built of logs. It is beautifully located on a river shore in the middle of a nationally valuable cultural landscape in South Ostrobothnia.

Advanced agriculture was practiced at the Kosola House, and its fields had been cleared at the edge of the adjacent vast expanse. The first owners were Anders and Maria Wikman. Their land trade stimulated the local business and made new tools and commodities available.

The ‘häjy’ knife-wielding troublemaker phenomenon was at its worst, until it gradually began to fade out as a result of the impact of the youth association movement, emigration to America, and pietism, among other things. The people of the house were involved in all these phenomena characteristic of the South Ostrobothnia. The most famous Finnish local sheriff of his time, Adolf Hägglund, known as the defeater of the knife-fighters, stayed in the house in the late 1880s when he was administering the estate of his brother Felix and became a subject of newspaper headlines for his offences in office.

During Juho and Sanna Kero’s ownership, Jaakko Hissa, who was only 16 years old at the time, founded Finland’s first rural bookstore that promoted education, supported the advancement of the elementary school network, and improved the attitudes of those who opposed education. Alina, the daughter of the Keros, became a well-known nationwide influencer among the Central Board of Rural Women’s Advisory Organisation and in the Lotta Svärd voluntary auxiliary paramilitary organisation for women. The Keros had a large extension built to the house. As a result of bankruptcy, the house passed on to Sanna’s sister and her husband, Maria and Iisakki Kosola.

General store, photo taken 1912-1917.

From the end of the 19th century, Russia sought to integrate Finland as part of itself and had, among other things, abolished Finland’s own army. The house and its inhabitants played a key role in Finland’s independence, participating in the Jaeger recruitment, where Finnish men secretly left for Germany to acquire military skills. The Kosola folks were also involved in the disarmament of the Russians, in the Weapons Cache Case, and in the White Guard Movement. In the turbulent early years of independence, with the advent of the anti-communist Lapua Movement, the house was a focal point on the nation’s political map known to all contemporaries. Vihtori and Eelin Kosola were visited by a number of renowned historical figures, such as Field Marshal Mannerheim. The business premises of the house have accommodated a wide range of enterprises, from a watchmaker to a footwear shop and a bank. The seventy-year period as the office building of Herättäjä-Yhdistys closes the story so far with the long history of the Awakening movement. A new page in the house’s history has now been turned again.

Persons from the left: Kauno Kangas, reporter Arvid Kaján, Vihtori Kosola, writer Pertti Uotila, Leo Leinonen, Niilo Kosola and Artturi Vuorimaa. Photo taken 13.7.1930.

Kosola house in the beginning of 20th century.

Kosola House at the moment

In the summer of 2019, Jari Vesanen, who himself lives in an Ostrobothnian house that was built from the logs of the former Lapua Church and transferred from South Ostrobothnia to Southern Finland, became the house’s new owner. The new owner wishes to renovate the Kosola House with preserving methods in such a way that it will remain the same even for the next 160 years.

The house will be restored using traditional methods appropriate to its age and value and developed as the Ostrobothnia Heritage Centre step by step. Log repairs have been made in the house, and its base floor has been restored to a ventilated base floor that keeps wooden structures healthy. Local experts who master traditional skills are restoring the log partitions to their original places, and traditional surface treatment and renovation of old windows, among other things, are currently under way.

The log construction typical for the northern coniferous forest zone is based on natural, long-lasting, healthy and ecologically sustainable materials and technical solutions. For example, we use flax for the sealing of logs and wood fibre materials for thermal insulation, as well as traditional linseed oil paints and self-made adhesive paints for surface treatments.

In addition, we renovate old doors and other building components for reuse, and mainly use Ostrobothnian antiques as furniture. Ostrobothnian peasant furniture and their decorative paintings are considered the finest in Finland.

Black and white images source: Lapua city museums, Pyhälahden valokuvaamo, copying prohibited.