Government Office » Stenbock House  

Renewed: 18.10.2011, 11:10

Stenbock House

Government of Republic and Government Office of Republic of Estonia dwell in the historical Stenbock House on Toompea Hill of the Tallinn Old Town. The Stenbock House is one of the most remarkable buildings on the northern slope of the Toompea Hill.

Stenbock House


The construction design of the building intended to be a court house was made by the provincial architect Johann Caspahr Mohr in 1784. In summer of 1787, after several tenders organised by the provincial administration, the Brigadier General, Count Jakob Pontus Stenbock (9.X 1744 - 23.IX 1824), landlord in Hiiumaa descending from a Swedish noble family, finally undertook construction of the court house on 20 July of the same year.

The authorities soon met difficulties in raising funds for construction work and the uncompleted house was transferred to Stenbock's ownership to cover debts. The building was probably completed in the beginning of 1792.

Since 1828, after the death of Count Stenbock, the ensemble of early classicist buildings that is still called the Stenbock House today, belonged to Paul von Benckendorff, the chief of rural police court. For a long time the building was used by the knighthood: since 1855 the building sheltered the Toomkooli Boarding School and was sold to the Knighthood of Estonia in 1873. In 1891 the building was transferred to the ownership of the Administration of the Guberniya of Estonia that, 100 years after the completion of construction, first started using the building as a courthouse.

After Estonia became independent, the building complex transferred to state possession on 8 March 1924. During the first independence era the house was used by the County Court - this explains also the origin of the street name. During the Soviet occupation the Stenbock House has given shelter to the Tallinn School of Law, the Supreme Court of the ESSR, various district courts, the Pharmacy Board, notary's office and the art classes of the Tallinn Pedagogical Institute.

Until November 1987 the building was used by the People's Courts of the October and Kalinin District of Tallinn - these were the last court instances to settle in the house. During the 20th century living rooms had found place in the arc-shaped outbuilding in addition to various public offices - only at the end of the 1980s did the last inhabitants move out of the building that was in danger of collapse.

The house has undergone three substantial reconstructions: first when it was adjusted for use as the Toomkooli Boarding House, the second time in 1891 when court instances were accommodated here for the first time, and finally when the building was renovated for the Government of Republic and the Government Office.

The building in danger of collapse was transferred to the assets of the Government Office in early 1990s, renovation was started at the beginning of 1996. During reconstruction most of the roofs, inner walls and ceilings were replaced along with nearly all windows and doors of the building - though new windows and doors were made exactly after the original details removed during renovation.

Restoration of the whole building ensemble was completed by the beginning of 2000 and on 23 February it was introduced to the public for the first time. 26 June was for the officials of the Government Office the first working day in this house of 6795 square meters of office area. The state paid 69 million kroons for restoration work and 3.38 million kroons for furnishings.

The Government of the Republic was for the first time in session in the Stenbock House on 8 August 2000. The inauguration ceremony performed by Jaan Kiivit, Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, took place on 6 September 2000.

The present interior design of all reception rooms of the building is based on northern asceticism, bright tones dominate over the dark ones and cold tones over the warm ones. The room in the centre of the second floor initially constructed as the law court offices is now used as the office for the Prime Minister's secretary.

The biggest room of the house initially designed as a court hall is located in the western wing on the second floor of the main building. Now the Government of the Republic holds its session here every Thursday by means of the electronic session system. This is the only room in the building where the dogtooth cornice edging the vaulted mirror ceiling has been restored. The three modernised chandeliers in the room are original designs by Peeter Tambu, interior designer of the house.

The room in front of the Government session hall is impressive with its portraits of eight State Heads (Prime Ministers) of the first independence era by Enn Põldroos and Tiit Pääsuke and this has given the room a new name as well - the Hall of State Heads.

The cabinet of the Prime Minister, a resting room, a reception salon (the Green Hall) and a meeting room (the Blue Hall) are located in the east wing of the main building. The office of the Prime Minister is furnished with cabinet furniture from Toompea Castle that was made in the 1930s in a style combining baroque and gothic elements and that has been used by all Estonian Heads of Government.

Secretary of State and Strategy Office are seated on the third floor of the main building. The arc-shaped outbuilding accommodates cabinets for councillors of the Prime Minister and for officials of Government Office.

Although the building complex at Rahukohtu Street 3 has switched owners many times in the course of time and has performed different functions, it has always been called the Stenbock House.

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