Along it paving-covered Storgatan, you come across listed buildings in mixed colors and shapes filled with details from a bygone era.
The Town Hall in Vimmerby, probably the first house in Vimmerby, designed by an architect. It was built in 1824-1825, only a few years after the devastating fire. The building is strictly neo-classical, its simplicity is timeless and it is one of Vimmerby’s five historic buildings. In the beautiful session chamber many decisions have been made and officials and politicians have written down many milestones in the town’s history.
In the 19th century it sometimes happened that the session chamber, as a change from its more official capacity, was transformed into a ballroom, where the town’s bourgeois enjoyed themselves with the social activities typical of the time. When the new town hall was finished in 1976 the old town hall had had its day as the heart of public administration. Instead of different types of municipal activities, Västervik’s district court has sessions in the rooms of the old town hall.
For a long time Vimmerby was torpor, but was awakened from its slumbers in 1962. That is when they discovered the unique paintings in Grankvistgård on Storgatan and the Swedish Central Board of National Antiquities with Dr Åke Nisbeth as a driving force was becoming interested in the previously unknown town by the River Stångå. Grankvistgård was, in 1963, classified a historic building, and was probably built before the year 1700.
The contemporary baroque paintings by a yet another unknown artist are very well preserved and the work of laying bare and restoring the paintings that was carried out as the house was “discovered” has made Grankvistgård one of Vimmerby’s distinguished sights. But neither Grankvistgård nor the other historic buildings along Storgatan are museums, they are extremely vivacious culture houses, where industrious people reside. The inspiring environment of Grankvistgård urges visitors to find out more about the older buildings of Vimmerby.
It hasn’t been necessary to move any buildings in order to create “an old Vimmerby”. The buildings are where they are and many of them are unique in the country. Only a short way from the Grankvistgård is the almost contemporary Tenngjutaregård (Pewterer’s Mansion), which was awoken from its 200-year-old slumbers in 1964. In both cases it was the goldsmith Beyron Milton who played the part of the prince. During the years that have past since Vimmerby began to show its unsuspected qualities, the married couple Thyra and Beyron Milton have followed with great interest, the repair of the culturally historical buildings on Storgatan. As the representative for the director-general of the Swedish Central Board of National Antiquities in Vimmerby, Beyron Milton was always first on the scene when a new relic was found and because of his thorough knowledge of styles, much has been saved for posterity.
The mansion, which received its name from the pewterers Gudmund Östling and Zadek Bergenholzt, has a long history and had its period of greatness during the 18th century. By contrast to the Grankvistgård, we know the name of the artist and in what year he decorated the ceilings and walls to create a residence in accordance with his station. He was commissioned by pewterer Östling. Above the kitchen-door, which still has its original “spy-hole”, apart from a quote from the bible the following is written: “Målat av Joh Lundgren Olofsson den 27 oktober 1767” (translation: Painted by Joh Lundgren Olofsson on the 27 of October, 1767.) The Tenngjutaregård, which in 1964 looked to be in hopeless disrepair, has today regained its original character as a mansion owned by a bourgeois in the 18th century. Apart from the painting on the ceilings and the walls there are several fitments from the mansion’s days of glory. Among other things, the ironwork on the front doors toward Storgatan has been preserved, and in the place of honour in the dining-room, formerly the pewterer’s workshop, a melting pot of cast iron, dating back to 1825, has a place of honour.
The Borgmästaregård (the Mayor’s Mansion), Storgatan 3 is Vimmerby’s fourth historic building, named after Otto Gustaf Wahlberg who was the mayor of the town between 1870-1907. This building was also built in the 18th century, but in comparison to many other culturally historical buildings it has still not been fully investigated. However, the present owner is a man who knows about old things and thanks to his antique shop some parts of the Borgmästaregård are now accessible to the general public. Furniture from the mayor’s residence is still in its original environment on the upper floor, among other things a grand oak dining-room suite, a square piano and an out-of-the-ordinary shaving-mirror on three legs, where even the mayor’s candles are still in their candleholders.
The Rådmansgård (the District Court Judge’s Mansion) on Storgatan 28, was classified an historic building as late as January 1975. The ground floor was probably built in the middle of the 17th century. The building can be found in drawings from 1648 and during the latter part of the 18th century another storey was added. The mansion derives its name from the district court judge Johan Wimarkrantz, who bought and renovated the building in 1772, and it is from that period of time when the paintings originate that have made the mansion famous. When they started renovating the building they found beneath 8 to 10 layers of tapestry in the big rooms in the ground floor something which later showed to be imitations of Chinese rice-wallpaper, painted on thick cardboard tapestries which were pasted directly onto the logs. 80 percent of the paintings are very well preserved in the big room of approximately 40 square meters. There are relics of paintings in the ceiling as well, but as it would become too costly to restore them the owner of the house has decided to lay bare only a limited part.
As a fact it is more of a rule than an exception that there are paintings in the old mansions on Storgatan. This makes it unique. No town in the country can display anything similar. As a matter of curiosity it can be mentioned that the famous doctor and author Axel Munthe during one or a few years of his childhood went to school in Vimmerby, and lived on Storgatan. His father was a pharmacist and in the mid-18th century the pharmacy was situated on Storgatan 25. The Munthes lived in the same building. All the properties along Storgatan are privately-owned and are normally not accessible to the general public apart from the exception accounted for here.