LITTLE VYBORG

In the 1940s, nearly 10,000 people moved from Vyborg and surrounding areas to Lahti transforming the lands of the former Fellman Manor into the so-called Little Vyborg, many of which were built by the Karelian communities who moved to Lahti, as a result of the war (1939). The city came with a hospital and church, a cultural building, an education center, a sports house, retail space and housing.

The history of the Vyborg Deaconess Institute dates back to the 1860s and Lahti Deaconess Institute had begun operations in the Ophthalmology and Internal Medicine departments in 1940. The entrance hall of the new hospital building, completed in 1950, with its fine columns and sculptures, was one of the most beautiful public spaces in the city. Hospital operations ended in 1972.

In 1953-56, a vocational school complex was built on the fields of Fellman Manor, which housed educational institutions evacuated from Karelia, such as the Vyborg Commercial College, the Vyborg Vocational College, the Vocational and Industrial Vocational School for girls, and the Technical School.

The Lahti Sports House (basketball, volleyball, bowling, gymnastics, etc.) was one of the first municipal sports facilities in Finland, and the Vyborg sports clubs played a significant role in its completion in 1957. The extension of the hall, a hall for nearly 1,500 spectators, was completed in 1967. In 2012, the Lahti Sports Hall received a demolition decision.

The Orthodox Church also moved to Lahti from Vyborg. Launched in 1950, the Lahti Orthodox Church is the only “evacuation church” established in southern Finland. Designed by architect Toivo Paatela, the Church of the Holy Trinity was completed in 1955. The church has several artifacts and icons from the lost Karelian areas of Finland, including the Old Valamo chandeliers.

The roots of Lahti Music Education also go back to Vyborg and its Vyborg Music Institute, founded in 1918. When the Winter War (1939) broke out, the music college with its teachers, libraries and traditions moved to Lahti. In 1954, the Concert Hall designed by Kaija and Heikki Sirén was completed in Lahti being the second house built in Finland as a concert hall and an integral part of the city’s history. To built the Concert Hall, money was donated by Sweden and with that money Finns bought sugar to make fruit sweets – together with rice and nail polish – to sell because those things were very valuable after the war. The Concert Hall was an American-style multi-purpose building of its time with music colleges, department stores, hotels, restaurants, coffee bars, bowling alleys, cinemas, etc. In 2000 Lahti city orchestra, Sinfonia Lahti, moved to new space, Sibelius Hall and the Concert Hall remained entirely open to music education. They build and double the size apartments, the tower part.

In 2000 in the harbor of Lahti, it was finishsed the concert and congress center of Sibelius Hall, designed by Hannu Tikka and Kimmo Lintula, the Sibelius Hall is probably the most famous building in Lahti. The inspiration for the design has been Finnish forests and all new components are based on wood. The building consists of four parts: a large hall, a former red carpentry factory, a congress wing and the Metsähalli foyer (suuresta salista, punatiilisestä entisestä puusepäntehtaasta, kongressisiivestä ja Metsähalli-lämpiöstä). The brick part of the Sibelius Hall is Lahti’s oldest surviving industrial building, a carpentry factory. It was completed in 1908 as a sulphate cellulose mill built by August Fellman and has since also been a glass mill. The star map of the birth of composer Jean Sibelius shines in the tall roof of Metsähall. The Sibelius Hall hosts numerous significant concerts, meetings and other events every year. The acoustics of the main hall of the Concert Hall have won international acclaim and glory, and the Sibelius Hall has been selected several times among the best concert halls in the world.

The old-style city bus station, designed by Kaarlo Könönen, dates back to 1939. The bus service in the city had begun in 1923, when the cars carried not only passengers but also cargo, mainly milk. Originally, from 1930, the buses had departed from the Alatori at the Shell gas station, which had served both as a waiting area for passengers and luggage as well as for drivers’ breaks. When traffic at the Alatori began to be congested, it was decided to build the actual bus station on the west side of the city center. Wherever possible, building supplies were sought from local contractors. The station building consisted of three parts: a large entrance hall, a cargo wing and a restaurant and business section at the round end. Prior to the completion of the station building, its tower was raised by another two meters from its design in order to maximize its Illuminated Ads and through them rental income. The new bus station was served by long-distance buses, departing about a hundred daily. Today, the former Lahti Bus Station is a cultural and historical building with a grocery store and a restaurant. The new Travel Center, which combines bus and train services, started in 2016 in connection with the railway station.

One of the most important buildings of Little Vyborg is the Suojalinna Castle, completed in 1947. The nine-story building, once completed, was the tallest in the city and symbolizes post-war life belief and hope for the future. Six of the 70 apartments in Suojalinna were commercial apartments. The business, office and living floors were distinguished by different window shapes. Suojalinna was designed by Jalmari Lankinen, a Vyborg architect, and built by the Vyborg Insurance Company Suoja, and was once the first insurance company in Lahti. At the beginning, a large part of the inhabitants of the house and the companies operating there also came from Vyborg. The Suoja Insurance Company ceased its activities in 1960, but its successor, the Suoja Foundation, was established to “To promote scientific, artistic, cultural, educational, social and economic aspirations and the study of the historical tradition “.

Just outside the Concert Hall in the city center is Erkon Park, which is known among locals for its children’s play area and for its interesting statues among tourists. The most famous statue of the park is probably the Moose sculpture, directed towards the Little Vyborg, donated by the Karelians of Lahti in 1955 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the city. The statue is a copy of a statue erected by Jussi Mäntynen in Torkkeli Park in Vyborg in 1928. The donors of the statue hoped to symbolize the prominent position of Karelian immigrants in Lahti’s cultural and business life after the war. Nowadays in the Labor´s day, is a tradition for students to put the white cap in the head of the Moose statue. Erko Park also features a bust replica of Mikael Agricola (1953), the original made in Vyborg in 1908 by Emil Wikstöm,  J.K. Paasikivi (Finnish President) made by Veikko Leppänen and  J. H. Erkko (a poet, playwright and cultural influencer), made by the sculptor Essi Renvall in 1956.