A model village replicates a 1920s industrial environment

The village of Syvänniemi lies on the shore of Kuttajärvi lake, about half an hour’s drive from the centre of Kuopio. Syvänniemi shares a long and remarkable history with the Saastamoinen industrial family behind Saastamoinen Foundation.

Syvänniemi was where the founder of the family, Herman Saastamoinen, established a spool factory in the 1890s. Oy H. Saastamoinen Limited, which incorporated the factory in Syvänniemi, was renowned between the 1910s and World War 2 for being the world’s largest manufacturer of spools. This spool factory was a major employer in its day, with 300 employees. Housing, a school, a shop, meeting facilities and even a church were built for the workers. Besides the spool industry, there was also extensive agriculture in Syvänniemi. After the wars however, wooden spools gradually began to be replaced by plastic spools. The spool factory in Syvänniemi became unprofitable and was discontinued and demolished in the late 1960s.

Syvänniemi village history

Today, Syvänniemi is a small but vibrant village, home to about 650 inhabitants. The local history society Syvänniemen historia ry came into being partly because of the villagers’ concern for their home region and partly because of their interest in the history of the place. The society began by recording memories and collecting old photographs. Its activities were driven by local enthusiast Jaakko Kuldvere’s interest in local history, and he was highly influential in collecting material. In 2001, with the Foundation’s help, the researcher Juhapekka Tuomainen published a history of the village in a fascinating book entitled Keihästaival: historian murros Syvänniemellä. The book has been so popular it is already in its fourth print.

A model village recounts village history

A model of the factory environment at Syvänniemi was created with the help of material collected in a history project with Saastamoinen Foundation’s support. The model village depicts Syvanniemi in the 1920s. The model village was made under the direction of Jaakko Kuldvere and Martti Hammar as part of the Vaihtoehtona työ project in Suomussalmi in 2006. The model village depicted the 1920s because this was when the factory was at its largest. Syvänniemi had a population of as many as 800 at the time. The model village is important to the village community since so many of Syvanniemi’s original buildings no longer exist. The buildings in the model village have been skilfully made to look like the originals using photos. Built of polystyrene and coated sawdust, the terrain undulates and presents an authentic picture of the village as it was, with cultivated fields, river valleys and other details. Kuttajärvi lake, with its inlets and islands, is painted a deep blue, giving the entire model village a distinct frame.

The model village is housed in Hermannitalo, the cowshed of the former spool factory. Almost one thousand visitors come each year to see the model village as part of a historical tour of Syvänniemi. Hermannitalo and the model village of Syvänniemi is showcased in conjunction with various events. Hermannitalo features a restored room which is used for many events including parties, meetings, weddings and bazaars. It is also home to the popular summer theatre Teatteri Hermanni and Lasten Hermanni. Events in Hermannitalo attract numerous visitors throughout the year.

Photo: source: ELKA