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The President
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Building of the Office of the President

The Paslepa Residence

Building of the Office of the President

In the 1930s, the Estonian Government decided to erect for the President of the Republic an office building in the immediate vicinity of his official residence, the historical Kadriorg Palace. Those years also saw the renovation of the old Kadriorg Park: the area around Swan Pond was redesigned and a new, Children's Park was laid out. In 1937, a concert ground designed by architect Alar Kotli was built. Even the post-war generation can remember the band shell on the concert ground and the abundance of different flowers in the adjacent rock garden. The changes in the park were introduced in accordance with the wishes of President Konstantin Päts expressed in numerous letters preserved up to the present day.

The building of the Office of the President of the Republic, designed by architect Alar Kotli, was completed in the summer of 1938. At that time, the spacious building also housed the Office of the Legal Chancellor and the administration of the Committee of State Decorations. The wings accommodated living quarters of Director of the President's Office Elmar Tambek, Senior Aide-de-Camp Colonel Grabbi, chief accountant and chauffeur.


The garden

Designing the new Kadriorg Palace, Alar Kotli faced a complicated task requiring great discretion: the new building was not to impair the integrity of the gorgeous airy ensemble of baroque architecture. Therefore, he located the building on the same axis with the old Kadriorg Palace, and the back of the administrative building facing the old palace is rather austere and modest compared with the abundantly decorated faēade. The garden connecting the two edifices was completely re-landscaped. As far as our brief summers allow it, the garden was and still is used for ceremonial purposes. In early summer, the President receives the best school and university graduates there.

The ceremonial spaces of the office building were designed by architect Alar Kotli himself, except for the President's Big Office, which was designed by Olev Siinmaa, the then Chief Architect of Pärnu, and the result is fairly festive. Today, the building has several functions as well. It houses the Head of State's working office and audience rooms, the Office of the President of the Republic, and the President's official residence. The main entrance to the building is accentuated by a portico-cum-balcony structure. Originally, the main entrance was decorated with bronze heraldic lions, symbols of power, work by Voldemar Mellik. The statues got lost during the occupations.

The ground floor foyer

The stately main entrance leads to the ground floor foyer, whence corridors lead sideways to the President's residence in the north wing and the Office of the President in the south wing. The foyer has a coffered ceiling, and for the lining on the walls the builders have used yellow and red fake marble and polished Vasalemma marble, which forms an impressive contrast to the cut marble of the main entrance portico.



From the ground floor, a bow-shaped set of glass doors opens to the garden, where a solitary oak-tree, the eldest of an oak grove that stood here once, for nearly four centuries has borne witness to the crucial events of the Estonian history. A round well-lit stairwell connects the two floors of the house. The first-floor foyer is decorated by bronze portraits of Estonian statesmen Jaan Tõnisson and Konstantin Päts as well as of diplomat Ernst Jaakson, preserver of the continuity of the Republic of Estonia.

The first floor

The first floor houses the President's working and ceremonial spaces: the State Council Hall, the Big Office and the so-called Ambassadors' Hall (originally office of senior aide-de-camp). In 2002, in addition to the aforementioned, also the foyers, the side corridors and the round stairwell were restored to their original appearance. In designing the restoration, interior designer Juta Lember following strict rules for the protection of architectural heritage was able to both ensure the functionality of the spaces and to highlight their originality. For this work, Juta Lember was awarded annual prizes of both the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and the Estonian Interior Designers' Union.


The State Council Hall

The State Council Hall has been preserved in its original appearance designed by architect Alar Kotli. The elegant art déco furniture was designed by Richard Wunderlich, who had it made in his own firm Uus Mööbel. The fine doors manufactured by the same firm have also been preserved. The author of the intarsia overdoors depicting various branches of Estonia's economy is Günther Reindorff. The walls of the hall were once covered with cream-coloured linen damask with a leopard motif, designed by Adamson-Eric and woven at the Pärnu Flax Mill. The present fabric was patterned on the original sample fabric at the textile factory Kreenholmi Manufaktuur. Following a competition in 1939, a tapestry to the design by Aarne Mõtus, depicting a scene of agreement conclusion between Estonian elders and a Vikings' envoy, had been commissioned for the southern side-wall. During the occupations, the tapestry vanished.

Originally, the back wall of the State Council Hall was to be covered with a tapestry featuring the national coat of arms, which however was never completed. Instead, a painting entitled Lenin in Smolnyi was placed on the wall after the war. In 1974, Mari Adamson, in keeping with the initial idea for the design of the hall, created a tapestry depicting the coat of arms of the ESSR, which after the restoration of Estonia's independence was replaced with the present tapestry in the Estonian national colours by Peeter Kuutma.


Tapestry of the State Council Hall

Since 2003, the hall has been decorated with a tapestry made to the design that had won the above competition depicting the coats of arm of the then counties of Estonia and the great coat of arms of the Republic of Estonia.

Under the old Constitution, the Government meetings chaired by the President were held in the State Council Hall. Today, the National Defence Council convenes here. The hall is also the venue of several procedures under constitutional law, such as farewell calls of old governments, presentations of new governments and appointments of judges. In this hall, the President meets delegations from abroad, and political talks and negotiations are held here.

President's working office

President's working office, or the Big Office, was designed by architect Olev Siinmaa who largely followed the instructions of Konstantin Päts. President Päts wished the office to have an ethnic flavour. Yet in Estonia, this would have meant massive peasant furniture offering no match to the chandeliers and Oriental rugs in the room. The outcome - an art déco design seasoned with ethnic motifs - is even somewhat touching in its rustic roughness. The upholstered furniture, which has been preserved almost entirely, is covered with deep blue velvet like originally. The wall damask of Adamson-Eric's design was and is blue as well.

President's working office

Behind President Päts' seat there was a large tapestry with the national coat of arms; a portrait of Johan Laidoner and paintings by Johann Köhler and Oskar Hoffmann were hanging on the walls. Today, a marine painting by Aili Vint decorates the northern wall of the Big Office.

The Ambassadors' Hall

The Ambassador s' Hall is used as a ceremonial room. Here, the President's flag with the image of the national coat of arms in the background, the President receives credentials of the ambassadors accredited to Estonia. Interstate agreements at presidential level are also signed here. When the President decides to confer state decorations at Kadriorg, the ceremonies are held in the Ambassadors' Hall. In this hall, high-ranking visitors are presented to the President and also media events can be arranged here.


The flag of the President of the Republic of Estonia

Compared to the millennial Tallinn, the Presidential Palace is not old, yet it has experienced many events. It has been witness to the violent interruption of the Estonian statehood, the arbitrary alien rule, and the restoration of the Estonian independence. Today, the flag of the President of the Republic of Estonia is streaming over the Palace again, as a token that the Estonian Head of State is at home and working.

Building of the Office of the President
Photos: Postimees/Scanpix and the Office of the President

The Paslepa Residence

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