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History of the Building History of the Building

Sailor's Home Museum is located on Oulu's Pikisaari island in a house dating from the 1730s. The building was originally a Customs Office building on the road from Oulu to Liminka. Today, the building is the oldest wooden house in Oulu. It even survived the devastating City Fire of 1822.

Oulu's City Fire of 1822. Aquarelle by Jack Wallin. The Northern
Ostrobothnia Museum Collections.

When the fire took place, the customs house was owned by customs inspector Berg and it was located in what was then the fourth borough. Along with a new city plan, the house was relocated to the fifth borough on lot number seven. In today's grid plan, the new location was on the corner of present-day Kirkkokatu and Nummikatu.

Surveyor Peter Nymansson's drawings from 1804 illustrate how the customs office looked like in the past. It was a low-slung building with vertical boarding, and entrance was from the street side. On the north end was a hallway with a slanted roof, through which one could enter a small room. The hallway was demolished in 1965.

From Peter Nymansson's map collection from 1804

The small room at the northern end of the building is reported at one time to have been used for prisoner transporters' night housing. For the duration of the night, the transporter would chain his prisoner to an iron ring on the wall.  

Oulu's oldest wooden building is also known as Matila's House, named after sailor Isak Matilainen (1838–1898), a long-time owner of the house. After her husband died, Greta Matilainen (1847–1910) operated a milk shop from the house. A health inspector had this to say in 1910:

… The shop is small and low, but other than that there is enough light and the floor is from wood and painted. Cleanliness and order is good.

People waiting in line in 1917 to visit a milk shop owned by
the cooperative dairy of Liminka. Picture: Samuli Paulaharju.

After Greta Matilainen passed away, the estate was transferred to the cooperative dairy of Liminka. A milliner, or hatter, called Rauha Leskinen operated her business from the house during 1944–1949.

In the 1950s, Matila's House was home to, among others,
a shop specializing in inexpensive books. Picture: Pentti Väisänen.