Academy of Arts professor Mart Kalm said that the list of protected heritage objects is heavy on Baltic German architecture, neglecting wooden farm houses where Estonians themselves lived.
Speaking on ERR radio, Kalm said that Estonia has a relatively strong system of heritage conservation and a functioning Heritage Conservation Act, but it is very unilateral, adding: “It is shamelessly disproportioned in the way that practically all manor houses, but only a few farmsteads are protected.”
“This has happened because these stone buildings or manors withstand history better […]. Meanwhile, farm houses, where Estonians lived, were wooden, smaller, shabbier and did not dominate landscapes. There are a hundred reasons why they have not survived,” added the professor.
Kalm said that a network of advisers is available to old farm house owners, who want to preserve their buildings.
He said older houses give off an aura. “I think it is important that when approaching an old house, one should feel it and set one's life around to the house. The magic of a house in the country is that we go there and adapt our lives to the environment, respect the old way of life and meddle as little as possible,” said Kalm
“In present day Estonia, where money is in abundance, the problem has become too much interference,” added the professor.
The era discussed by Kalm was one where Baltic German landlords were the major land owners and most lived in manors, while Estonians belonged to farming classes and resided in modest wooden farm houses.
The period began in the 13th century and lasted until the late 1930s, when most Baltic Germans - who had lost much of their estates in a land reform just before the 1920s - were ordered to repatriate.
Professor: Baltic German Legacy More Valued Than Estonia's Own