The Trade House of Lang is located on the historical courtyard of the Lang Manor. Of the original buildings in the courtyard of the manor, the main building of Lang, the Lower Manor of Lang, the stone warehouse, the scales room, and the barn have survived till today. The oldest buildings are over 200 years old and have now been renovated with respect since 2016. All the buildings are culturally and historically valuable, and the aim of the renovation work has been to repair the buildings so that they remain to tell the interesting seafaring town history of Raahe to the future generations.
Trading was done at the Lower Manor of Lang from 1811 until 1934 in the name of Johan Lang. The Lower Manor of Lang has survived as part of Raahe’s Pekka Square and it has now been renovated into an experiential trading house to tell visitors the interesting story of the trading house from the golden years of the sailing ship era and the history of the people at Lang in the 19th century. The Lower Manor of Lang has a café, a shop, a restaurant kitchen, banquet halls, and hotel rooms.
The Lang House, or the main building, was built as a home for the merchant family. The office of the patron and accountant was located there, where the wholesale trade business was carried out from till all over Finland and the rest of the world. Today, three hotel rooms, the Utua Showroom and design office, the Raahe City Tourist Information Office, and the Great Hall of Lang’s banquet facilities are located in the main building.
After a fire in the city of Raahe on October 6, 1810, merchant Johan Lang bought two plots of land from the northwest corner of the new market. Lang’s house had completed been destroyed in the city fire, except for the cellars. Johan Lang first built an outbuilding on the new plot, the so-called lower manor, in 1811 and the following year a handsome main building. The buildings of Lang’s Trade House dominate the northwest corner of the market, showing the owner’s wealth and position in the city.
Johan Lang’s trading house had an effect on the Raahe life for a long time. Merchants and women at the trading house, especially those in the “Franzen era,” left a strong memory of life in Raahe and the wider region. In the Lower Manor, there were two shops, the apartments of the captain and the shop maiden, a brewery, accommodation for the peasants and their horses who came to do business from the provinces.
Pekka Square is the most important part of Gustaf Odenwall’s town plan (1811) made after the fire in Raahe. It was meant to become a centre of commerce and administration. The square is surrounded by seven residential plots and many of important families of Raahe built right by the square. The new builders were the town’s most notable members of the bourgeois, merchants, jurors, merchants, and shipowners.
The buildings surrounding the square all represent the 19th-century wooden classicism. This enclosed market complex, based on the ideals of the Italian Renaissance, has remained exceptionally cohesive. The Pekka Square is internationally valuable and of squares of the Finnish wood towns, it is the best preserved.
The Trade House of Lang was a typical trading house of a former coastal city, engaged in land and foreign trade, ship-ownership and, over time, it formed a group of companies whose products were needed in both ship ownership and trade. In calculations of the wealth tax of 1800, Johan Lang’s property was among the four largest merchant assets in Finland. Lang’s business was the largest trading house in Northern Finland. The property of the trade house included sailing ships, sawmills and ironworks. In the 1820s and 1830s, Lang’s trading house was the largest iron manufacturer in Northern Finland.
The Trade House of Lang was twice inherited by the son-in-law. First, at the death of merchant and shipowner Johan Lang to Zacharias Franzén, and after the death of Zacharias Franzén, a merchant, to Fredrik Sovelius, the younger, became the head of the business. When Johanna Lang’s daughter Johanna Gustava and Charlotta married the sons of the Oulu merchant family, Zacharias and Johan Franzen, the two most important merchant families in Northern at the time were merged. The trading house has been influenced by all of Raahe’s great families – the Langs, the Franzens, and the Sovelius’.
At the beginning of the 1930s, of the old trading houses only the Trade House of J. Lang & co. had remained. The Trade House of Lang had also managed to survive the difficulties caused by the Crimean War and it had also played a significant role as a financier as Raahe’s ship ownership rose to new heights after the Crimean War. The merchant fleet of this small town was for a long time the largest in Finland. Johan Lang company’s business ended in bankruptcy in 1934, but its enormous significance for the development of Raahe and the surrounding area was not diminished by that.
Eero Sovelius-Sovio: Ihmisiä laivojen kaupungista (People from the Town of Ships)
Eero Sovelius-Sovio: Sovio-Sovelius-suku (The Sovio-Sovelius Family)
Samuli Paulaharju: Wanha Raahe (The Old Raahe)
Raahen kaupungin 300-vuotismuistojulkaisu (300-year Memorial Publication)
Jari Ojala, Patriarkan kuolema, teoksessa Arjen Valta, toim. Piia Einonen et. (The Death of the Patriarch by Jari Ojala in The Power of the Everyday edited by Piia Einonen et al.)
By Ms. Eija Turunen, the Head of the Museum