In legends, the story of Laukko Manor starts with Matti Kurki. It is said that the chieftain from Pirkkala met enemy warlord Pohto in Laukko in the 13th century. Laukko’s own David faced this Novgorodian Goliath in a traditional duel of the Viking era. Matti won, and gained Laukko Manor as his prize.
Laukko is first mentioned in historical documents in 1416. The first master of the Manor, Klaus Kurki, is known as the main character of the oldest Finnish murder ballad called Elinan surma, or the Murder of Elina. Nothing in historical documents, however, hints at Kurki having burned his family.
Klaus Kurki’s son Arvid Kurki was the last bishop of the Catholic Middle Ages in Finland. Arvid Kurki built a stone manor in Laukko as a landmark of his power and wealth. Styled during several phases, the stone manor served as the home of the host family of Laukko until the destructive fire of 1704.
The most famous knight of Laukko history, Axel Kurck, was appointed the commander of the Swedish forces in Finland in 1598 by King Sigismund, after the death of Klaus Fleming. Kurki lost to Duke Charles, and was sentenced to death three times, but managed to survive each time.
In the 17th century, the manor was governed by the wealthiest man in Finland, Jöns Kurck. The Laukko stone manor was rebuilt to suit the fashionable renaissance style. The court was led by aristocratic spouses: Märta Oxenstierna, Sophia De La Gardie and Christina Horn.
In 1817, the Kurck family sold Laukko Manor to Professor Törngren. To the family’s tutor, Elias Lönnrot, Laukko became the home of the sunny summers. In his later years, Lönnrot finished his literary works while staying in the manor. Lönnrot dated the Finnish epic, Kalevala, in Laukko on 17th April 1849.
Industrialist Adolf Törngren commissioned the first steam boat for Pyhäjärvi in 1859. The ship, named Laukko, transported cruise passengers between Laukko and Tampere. The ship also transported goods from the market garden and dairy to the city. The photo shows the paddle steamer Elias Lönnrot, completed in 1865.
In 1872, General Standertskjöld purchased Laukko Manor. The tenant farmers went on strike in spring 1906. As this was right before Finland’s very first parliamentary elections, the Laukko strikes and the consequential evictions garnered a great deal of national interest. On a local level, the simmering bitterness erupted during the Civil War.
Laukko is a manor of tales and stories; its buildings have often been shaken violently by the storms of history. On the 17th of April, 1918 arson patrols of the Red Guards set fire to all of the buildings of Laukko. Residents of local villages watched as the ancient manor disappeared in smoke and flames.
Rafael Haarla bought the manor in 1929. The new Laukko emerged white and massive in the midst of the large open waters of Lake Pyhäjärvi. Following the example of the new main building, the buildings of the manor village were laid with bricks, plastered white and covered with a red tiled roof. The architecture reflected the principles of Nordic classism.
The main manor building, representing Nordic classicism, was completed in 1931. It was designed by Veikko Kallio. The front yard of the building features animal sculptures by Jussi Mäntynen. Sculptures found in the manor park: Lönnrot and Niklander by Evert Porila and Laukko Maiden by Jussi Hietanen.
In the early 1930s, Finnish-American hunters had plans to bring the Virginia deer to Finland. The master of Laukko Manor heard of their plan and offered a new home to the deer. The deer in the photo, Tikla, Fanni, Jenny and Uros, came to Laukko in autumn 1934. The first Finnish white-tailed deer were released into the wild in spring 1938.
Juhani Lagerstam purchased Laukko Manor in 1968. A new, innovative era of horse and cattle breeding dawned. In the 1970s, Laukko Manor was known for its riding horses and beef cattle. In the turn of the 1980s, Juhani Lagerstam established an international-level trotting-horse stud in Laukko. The rest is Finnish harness racing history.
To celebrate its 600th anniversary, Laukko Manor opened its doors to the general public for the first time in 2016. The cornerstone of the designs for the new Laukko by architect Susanna Raunio has been to honour the natural beauty of the buildings and their history.
The owners, Liisa Lagerstam and Jouni Minkkinen, manage the culture manor’s operations. Laukko is the home to its owners and the manor villagers all year round.