photo by Mika Nuorva

Paavo's Inn on Aholansaari is a protected museum site

Paavo Ruotsalainen lived on Aholansaari on two occasions. First as a farmer in Soukka farm in 1817-20 and a second time as a farmer in Paavo's farm from 1830 until his death in 1852. Before the current name, the island was called Ruotsala or Markkala.

The old end of Paavo's barn was built in the 1830s. The place where tradition has it that Paavo read the Bible was planted with a fir tree at the first revival celebrations in Nilsiä. Its top was broken off in a winter storm in 2012.

Hyvämäki Summer Chapel

Aholansaari remained in the hands of the Swedish heirs until 1913, when it was bought by the vicar of Varpaisjärvi, Kleofas Hyvämäki. The island's old main building with its original porches was built by Hyvämäki. The building was first renovated in the 1960s and 70s and was used for accommodation for a long time. In the renovation, completed in spring 2019, the previous board lining has been dismantled and the building has been restored to a log surface. The building is now used for training and celebrations, and is still used by confessional students in the summer.

After the wars, the island was divided into three farms, of which the two new farms in the northern part were settled under the Land Acquisition Act. The area around the main building was left to Edit Hyvämäki, who inherited it from the Herättäjä Association after his death in 1955. The Herder Association established the Aholansaari Foundation, which in 1969 was joined by the Kainuu, Jyväskylä and Portaanpää Herder Colleges. In the same year, the foundation bought one of the farms. This gave it 50 hectares of the 150-hectare island.

Since then, a camp church, beach huts, terraced accommodation and a main building serving all have been built on the island, which is loved by young and old alike. It houses a banquet hall, a meeting room, a dining room and an office. The main building was completed in 1989 and inaugurated in early 1990. The newest building on Aholansaari is the apartment hotel Sepänpaja, completed in 2009.

photo by Mika Nuorva