The story of some wooden houses in Tallinn Kalamaja
Not long ago I came across an old envelope among some books
recuperated from my mother's apartment in Ludwigsburg, Germany, after she died in
1985. In the intervening years they were damaged in severe flooding and by some
miracle the envelope had not been thrown away with the sodden books. The envelope
contained legal documents and plans relating to a site in Tallinn Kalamaja bought
in 1883 by my great-grandfather Pärn Kübarmann and his wife Maria. Pärn Taimsalu Please click on the photos below to enlarge them.
Tallinn - Corner of Soo and Vana-Kalamaja streets
This Google Earth photo shows the site (Kinnistu No. 85) acquired by my
great-grandparents in 1883. It was taken in 2006 or 2007.
The photo still shows the house on Vana-Kalamaja (on the right of the
site) which has since been demolished.
My great-grandparents Pärn and Maria Kübarmann
Maria's maiden name was Simson or Simsohn. She was born in 1856 and died
in May 1940. Pärn Kübarmann was born in 1841 and died in 1916.
The couple had four children: Oskar, Karl, Susanne and my grandmother
The Kaufvertrag or purchase contract
Sketch of one of the first houses to be built on the site, from plans
dated 31 October 1883. It faces Vana-Kalamaja street and became nr. 27.
A second, smaller one-story house faced Uus-Kalamaja street.
A classic "Lender" style house
This drawing is from a set of plans of the site and all the buildings on
it commissioned in 1931 by my grandfather Johannes Ruben, who had married
Alice-Jakobine in 1906.
The house must have been built around 1900-1910. It is in the "Lender"
style popular at the time. Many such houses have survived in Kalamaja and
give this quarter of Tallinn its distinctive charm.
The Soo street side taken around 2002 by "sander"
In this photo the house on the corner of Vana Kalamaja was still
standing. It burnt down in 2006.
The series of three Lender style houses form an important part of the
heritage of the Kalamaja quarter.
This section of Uus Kalamaja street became part of Soo street around
When I visited the site for the first time in June 2008, I was shocked
to find that the Lender house has been allowed to disintegrate to such an
extent that it is now considered a fire hazard.
Incidentally, the stone wall is literally a "firewall", designed to
prevent any fires from spreading from house to house.
I am currently trying to find out what is happening to the site. Will
the house be demolished???.
Although theoretically I am the last descendant of Pärn Käbarmann, I
am not the owner of Kinnistu No. 85...
The surviving family in 1924
Maria Kübarmann is in the centre of the photo. Behind her are my mother
Meeri Ruben and grandmother Alice-Jakobine, Maria's only surviving
On the left is my grandfather Johannes Ruben and on the right my uncle
Ainult Reedel Ruben who emigrated to America in 1924.
Maria Kübarmann died in May 1940, only weeks before the Russian army
took over Estonia, and the property was confiscated by the new Soviet
I'm currently assembling more information and photos of Pärn and
Maria Kübarmann's descendants, which will be published on this site soon.
If you have found yourself on this web page and have any information concerning the
foregoing, then I would be extremely grateful to hear from you. Thank you.