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Brief history of Säynätsalo

The industrial community of Säynätsalo came into existence in 1897, when Honorary Counsellor Johan Parviainen purchased the uninhabited island of Säynätsalo. The following year Parviainen established the first sawmill in the area, and in 1914 the Parviainen family also opened a plywood mill on the island. At that time the area belonged to the municipality of Korpilahti, and later to Muurame. Säynätsalo as an independent municipality was created in 1924. It functioned independently right up until 1993, when the area was absorbed into the City of Jyväskylä. When the municipal merger took place Säynätsalo had a population of 3 600 inhabitants.

Johan Parviainen’s family carried on mill activities in the area for almost 40 years, until the year 1936. Subsequently the mill owners have changed. The present UPM Jyväskylä plywood mill is Finland’s oldest functioning plywood mill.

When Johan Parviainen died his offspring Hugo, Walter and Hanna ran the company in turn. They also concerned themselves with the social and spiritual well-being of the community, among other things by establishing and donating a kindergarten, old people’s home and church to the area. The designers of these buildings included the well-known Finnish architects Wivi Lönn and Professor Armas Lindgren. In addition the mill, as the largest landowner in the area, commissioned plans and standardized designs for buildings from Wivi Lönn and a young architect called Alvar Aalto, who was soon to become world-famous.

When the mill passed into the ownership of Enso Gutzeit in 1946 the new mill director, Hilmer Brommels, played an active role in ensuring that Alvar Aalto was also invited to take part in the design competition for Säynätsalo Town Hall.

This invitational competition arranged by the Municipality of Säynätsalo in 1949 was won by Alvar Aalto. The building was officially opened in 1952. At the opening ceremony Uuno Jokinen, chair of the council, described the building of the town hall as one of the most significant events in the municipality’s history. The leap forward was immense – after all, until then municipal business had been conducted from a room located in the cellar of the old people’s home. The programme of the opening ceremony held on 24.8.1952 included a performance of Jean Sibelius’ Andante Festivo, which Sibelius had composed especially for Säynätsalo to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the mills’ foundation.

It is claimed that the influence or ‘spirit’ of the Parviainen dynasty lives on in Säynätsalo – at the very least it is visible in the islands’ landscape in the form of numerous buildings penned by the above-mentioned architects.

Nowadays Säynätsalo is known as Jyväskylä’s island suburb, one that is close to nature and possesses a unique, idyllic character of its own.


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