Toys, Christmas decorations, electronic junk and old car parts decorate the building’s facade, much to the delight of the people who happen to drive or walk past it.
Sometimes, just sometimes the outside of an abandoned building has so many stories to tell that you’re not even sorry that you didn’t get to see it from the inside. Such is the case of the famous little red house on Veturitie 12, nestled cozily between the Pasila Railway Station and the tall apartment blocks of West Pasila a mere stone’s throw away from the disused trains I wrote about in my last update.
The owner of the property, an old sailor and a collector of random amazing memorabilia, died last year, leaving behind one of the most interesting public art installations in Helsinki. Helsinkians know Veturitie 12 as one of the few remaining structures of Wood Pasila: a neighborhood built between 1895 and 1905 to accommodate a growing local working-class population. At first a part of the Helsinki Rural Commune, it was merged into Helsinki in 1912.
This is Wood Pasila at the start of the 20th century:
I wasn’t able to find any non-copyright-protected “after” pictures, but by the 1970s the era of the apartment block had arrived in Finland. Most of the old wooden buildings – they were in very poor condition anyway – were torn down to make way for a new and better, but ultimately grayer and more homogenized West Pasila.
Interestingly, during the time when the old Pasila was being wiped out, Veturitie 12 was only beginning to come to the life we know it from. Sailor Aarre Ilvesviita had purchased the property and his daughter, possessed by a combination of youthful creativity and carelessness, took to decorating the exterior with toys and other knickknacks. As the years passed and she moved out, her father continued her work.
In the meanwhile, Pasila kept changing with the times. The city tried to coax the valuably located property outof Ilvesviita several times, but he persisted. Toys, Christmas decorations, electronic junk and old car parts now covered whole facade, much to the delight of the people who happen to drive or walk past it.
Unfortunately, Ilvesviita’s passing last year at the age of 87 means that the relic of Wood Pasila will soon be no more. As part of Pasila’s reconstruction plan, Veturitie will be artificially moved higher up on the West Pasila bank to free up space around the railway station. Not only will the house be demolished, the whole street will, too.
In the past month (so way after I took these photos) some friends and I have seen a mysterious light in the window and wondered if there might be a new resident in the house or if the city is simply trying to make it look occupied to prevent it from becoming the next hot hangout for wayward kids. Indeed, vandalism on the property has so far been minimal; everything seems to be where Ilvesviita left it, with no graffiti or tag in sight. I am very happy about this.
It is likely that any reprieve the house might have received is only temporary, but this does give the curious among us a little bit more time to see this truly unique piece of Helsinki history before it disappears for good. Just remember to be respectful of the house and the possible residents if you do.