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.

Google Earth view of the site

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.

Pärn and Maria Kübarmann

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 Alice-Jakobine.

The Kaufvertrag or purchase contract

  • The contract is dated 7 October 1883. At that time Vana-Kalamaja street was known by its German name Fischermai strasse. It's not clear at the moment whether there were any previous buildings on the site.

Construction begins

  • 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.

  • This plan dates from May 1889 and is for the addition of a third building on the site.

The site in 1930

  • This plan of the site was made in 1930, and shows a new development in the north-west corner, dating from about 1900-1910.

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 1940.

15 April 2006 - the fire

  • In this photo the house on the corner of Vana Kalamaja was still standing. It burnt down in 2006.

June 2008

  • 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 child.

  • 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 regime.

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.
Pärn Taimsalu.