Archive for September 27th, 2007

9.75 Years Later

It will be ten years in March. On a dark wintery morning in Helsinki I ran across an abandoned house while out for a walk. A once grand home in an area comprised, 100 years earlier, of Helsinki’s wealthy residents, in a state of disrepair. Windows boarded up. Porches missing. Unpainted siding. I became intrigued by this house.

A man from the city archives was kind enough to pull a copy of the blueprints for the house. He also pulled out a small article that had been written about it. He made copies for me.

I hired, Nina, a photographer. In the darkness of night, we attempted to capture some pictures of the place. The goal was to capture the images exactly as I had encountered the house. It was too dark and even with long exposure times, none of her pictures came out.

Our of sheer luck, another month later, a friend captured a picture of me walking in front of the house. It’s become one of my favorites.


I wrote a brief story of my encounters at the address of Eläintarhantie 14 in April of 1997. Sent it out to some friends who had asked about what I’d been up to.

By 2004 the house had been restored, complete with its original wallpapers and some of the original owners furnishings. Oskar Bloom built it. He was an engineer for the railroad. I was able to tour the now restored home in 2005 during a visit to Helsinki. A book has been written about the house, as well. I purchased a copy.

This evening I received an e-mail from a friend of a friend of a friend. Luke lives in South Africa. I’ve never met him. On a recent trip to Helsinki he recalled having read the story, and embarked upon a journey to find the house, which, he believes he found based upon his memory of the story. He wrote to get a copy of the story and informed me that he has a friend there, Nina, who is a photographer.

It is such encounters, such situations of nuance, where people enter into a scene for whatever reason, then and now, that are the foundations of the book I embarked upon writing last winter. Excerpts from the book can be found at the link to the right listed as “Hakaniemi”.

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