The Kjønnaas villa

(Norwegian version) The Kjønnaas villa in art nouveau style is named after an engineer, in 1919 employed in the newly started Eidefoss Hydroelectric Company.

Text: Per Erling Bakke

Adapted and translated into English by Ivar Teigum

The Kjønnaas villa on the crossing of the streets named after the school and the Resistance member Olav Bismo.

Dette er Kjønnaasvillaen i Otta gamle sør.The Kjønnaas villa, 1918-1920.

Hartvig Kjønnaas was an engineer employed in 1919 in the newly started Eidefoss Hydroelectric Company. Caused by the postwar crisis he had to leave his job after a year. The art nouveau villa he left is typical of the period.

The postwar years were turbulent. Engineer Kjønnaas sold the villa to the soapstone company Østlandske Stenexport in 1922. The company had flourished in the war years, had experienced a collapse, and in 1922 had to start from scratch. Their tenant in the Kjønnaas villa in more modest times was the company’s bookkeeper.

During the confrontation in 1940 between German and British forces firebombs and grenades caused damages on several houses in the area, among them the Kjønnaas villa.

A cross section of occupations and professions have lived in the Kjønnaas villa throughout the years. Among them were a hotel owner, a railwayman with his family, a bookbinder, a bank manager, an electrician, a sausage maker, and others. The present owner bought the house in 1972.

Tre hus i Olav Bismos gate pÃ¥ OttaThe Kjønnaas villa, 2002-2003.

The area east of the railway line and near the Otta river where the Kjønnaas villa has its address, was for a long time nicknamed the Lamp Oil Neighbourhood. As parts of Otta got electric light in 1918, other parts would have to wait. And as means were meagre and water for the turbines scarce, some areas had to wait even for decades for the electric power. The irony of the matter was that among others in its neighbourhood, the villa that the Eidefoss engineer built in its pioneering year, had to rely on lamp oil for a long time.