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Damsgård Hovegård

Damsgård hovedgård (Damsgård manor) is a landmark manor and estate situated in the section of Bergen, Norway known as Laksevåg. It is noted for its distinct rococo style and is possibly the best preserved wooden building from 18th century Europe.


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The area around today's manor was most likely populated during the Viking era or earlier, but literary evidence shows it was a population center in 1427, listed as church property. Following the Reformation in 1536, the estate was taken over by the crown and then sold to foreign interests.


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In all likelihood, the name is derived from Dam Tønneson, who in 1654 inherited the farm from his father Tønnes Klausson, who in turn received it from Frederick II of Denmark because of Klausson's service during the Northern Seven Years' War. The oldest sections of the structure, however, are probably from around 1720, when Severin Seehusen owned the estate. At the time, the buildings were painted bright red and green. An estimate for the main house from 1731 exists and indicates the general layout of the structure. By all accounts, the estate was a year-round farm and a recreational property.
Joachim Christian Geelmuyden Gyldenkrantz, later knighted Gyldenkrantz, took over the farm in 1769 and quickly began the Rococo construction that exists to this day. He also rebuilt the main house to face the maritime approach to Bergen.

Soon after Gyldenkrantz died, the property was sold to Herman Didrich Janson, one of the wealthiest men of his time. He only completed minor external changes but thoroughly renovated the interior of the houses. The Janson family maintained ownership of the estate until 1983, when it was taken over by Vestlandske kunstindustrimuseum, which embarked on a 10-year restoration effort, in collaboration with the Directorate for Cultural Heritage in Norway. It was then put on the protected list, and Bergen City Museum has taken over the estate


Damsgård is interesting for its rococo architecture, unusual in Norway in general but also as a wooden structure in Europe. The facade of the main house is built to exaggerate the dimensions of the house itself, and two windows are actually painted on to create symmetry.
Its interior layout has been restored to its original, early 18th century plan. The interior is restored to the different eras of its history.
The estate also has two gardens inside its walls and one outside. These are known as: the (eastern) "Master's garden," the (western) "Mistress's garden," and (outside the walls) the "English garden."



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Copyright © 2007, Hanspeter Hochuli, Ennetburgen, Switzerland
last updated:  20.07.2007