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History


More than one third of the manor buildings preserved until today were built in Northern Estonia in the second half of the 18th century.

The beautiful Saue Manor complex is one of the best examples of Estonian early classicistic architecture. The manor was built in the 16th century, and in 1774 was acquired by Friedrich von Fersen. The present pretty manor house together with the barn and the coach house arched round its front square were finished in 1792, the large park was founded.

The general appearance of the main building's halls is of mixed character as it was typical to the era, a particular painterly disorder is perceivable. Each room has its own mood, a different tone of colour and varied use of theme in the stucco decoration. Not all stuccowork is from the 18th century, the more simple stucco decorations (ornaments) date from the year 1805. In the manor's inner rooms the doors, lambrequins and the banisters of the main staircase are in rococo style, and consequently from the construction period of Johann Schultz.

The manor's park was to make Saue a little Versailles. The park which was designed in English or natural style was supposed to create varying scenery, where lawns, freely grouped trees and bushes, pavilions and sculptures all have its own place. The accents here are on sculptures situated on the axis of the ensemble - Hercules, who brought Cerberus, the infernal dog, to the daylight, and the sculpture of the beautiful Leda and the swan.



16 - 17 century

The first known owner of Saue Manor was Remmert von Scharenberg from Westfaal, who received right of investiture from queen Margaret of Denmark. Before moving to Saue the would-be manor owner was the bailiff of Narva in 1528 - 1532, and hold a position in Tallinn commandery in the years 1534 - 1549. Apart from his property in the country, he also owned several houses in the town of Tallinn. He was buried in St. Nicholas' (Niguliste) Church in 1549.

In the 17th century the manor went into the possession of Bernhard von Scharenberg. He was noted for his several marriages and donations to the Church. Let our fantasy soar and think that these two facts are related!

To the squire's order the altar in Keila church was made in 1632 by one of the leading carvers in Tallinn, Tobias Heintze. The portraits of the donors Bernhard von Scharenberg and his second wife Anna von Rosen are painted on the altar's wings. It may be added that the squire got married also the third time and lived almost to the age of hundred years. Another church donation is known as well. Namely, St. Olaf's (Oleviste) Church was presented a pulpit (was destroyed in the fire in 1820). Presumably Saue Manor was very beautiful in the period of Bernhard von Scharenberg's ownership, for he had money and knew how to choose the best masters.

One reference to the manor's splendour is the base stone of the weathervane preserved from this period, on which is a mask with a broad grin and the Von Rosen's coat of arms with three roses between the puttos (a child angel, a figure of an infant in a sculpture or painting, often in decorative groups and winged). Sculpture is only seen on outstanding buildings.



18 - 19 century

The second stage of the history of Saue Manor is opened by major Frederich Herman von Fersen, who acquired the property in 1774. This was a decade of great changes in Estonian manor architecture, when, according to the contemporaries, everything revived and flourished. A more squandering way of life and love of luxury accompanied the economic wealth. All this is also seen in the main building of Saue Manor, as well in the whole ensemble. Von Fersen called Johann Schultz to design the manor house. Schultz had designed the government's building in Toompea in Tallinn and had become the gubernia's architect. Apart from architectural skills he also knew stuccowork extraordinarily well; this he applied in the White room in Toompea as well in designing the decoration of Saue Manor.

Also notable carpenter work can be found in Saue Manor. Ääsmäe, Ohtu, Ingliste and Saue stand out with its high standard in Harju County. While the Ääsmäe and Ohtu main doors with rococo or even baroque accents are the work of a famous carpenter in Tallinn Anthony Rabe, the same school reaches Saue at a bit later time and can be seen in the door's panelling of the main building's front fa?ade. The rolled slats that flank the door's panelling, as well the proportionally lower and steeply salient bases give reason to think that the door was made in Rabe's workshop. We can only guess what the main building's door looked like. The present door is from the beginning of the 19th century.

The manor house is even more valuable knowing that in the last decades of the 18th century with prevailing of classicism, the carpenter work used in polishing became more simple. Originality and details did not dominate anymore. Carpenters began to use model books, hence carpenter works were at times almost identical. In Saue the author's touch is still perceivable and noticeable.

Because of a mortgage deed in 1792 von Fersen was forced to relinquish the possession of the manor to the owner of Saku Manor, prince Friedrich von Rehnbinder and his wife princess Gertrud. The new owners moved in and in 1794 their second son was born in Saue, as well their next children. Even when the children had a new St. Petersburg style main building constructed in Saku, the old couple preferred to stay in Saue.

In 1860 the von Straelborns bought Saue Manor.



20 - 21 century

The third period of the history of Saue Manor began after the Independence War when the Straelborns left for Germany and sold the manor to the Republic of Estonia. The republic gave it together with 50 hectares of land to a hero of the Independence war, Johannes Erm. Regrettably, his life was a short one and from 1925 the manor was left to his wife and family.

During the Russian occupation the manor changed occupants several times. These included: a home for aged people, a hospital for the chronically diseased, a machine and tractor station, the office of Estonian Agricultural Machinery (at the end of the 1980s they had the manor renovated by Eesti Restauraator (Estonian Renovator)), a kindergarten, the Saue city council and the office and production rooms of a firm SAUREM, belonging to the Saue city council.

In 1995 the manor was returned to a daughter of Johannes Erm, Missis Elga Viilup, who in turn sold it to the Kriisa family.

In compiling this text, materials from the presentation of Silja Konsa, an inspector of Muinsuskaitse Amet (National Heritage Board), have been used by her permission.