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From poorhouse to guesthouse

The exciting history of the buildings of Smedehytten is an endless source of inspiration.

The house, that in 1. of November 1880 opened its doors as Everdrup poorhouse to accommodate the old, sick and poor with no other choice, is today accommodating travelers. It’s fascinating to be able to continue house’s tradition of being a temporary home for different people – though with one big exception. We want people to be happy while being here, which was most likely not the case in the old days.

So how was the life in poorhouse in the past?

Permission to pay a visit outside of the Everdrup poorhouse

According to a document from the local archives, poorhouses were the very last resort for the old, poor, sick and unemployed. Those with no family or other social network gave them no other choice than moving to a poorhouses. People in poorhouse got usually better food and a roof over their head than they would have living outside. It was more the limitations of freedom and status of second-class citizen that kept people avoiding poorhouses. The strict rules and limitations of freedom of the poorhouse included for example that the poor needed permission if they just wanted to have visitors or wished to pay a visit outside the poorhouse premises. Children were separated from their parents and spouses were separated from each other. Parents lost the custody of their children to those managing the poorhouse. Poorhouses were divided in womens´ and mens’ section.

Everdrup poorhouse, today Smedehytten, it was expected that the poor payed for their stay with work for example in the field belonging to the house. If there were some products for leftover, they were sold outside the house. Those who couldn’t work for their stay gathered debt. Those in debt lost their right to vote and weren’t allowed to get married without a permission.

Announcement in the local paper

We haven’t been able to find tons of information about Everdrup poorhouse YET. But there still exists a book where occupants name, age and a short story was written down. Some of the stories were harsh, for example a story of siblings Lars, 10 years and Kristine 4,5 year who moved to poorhouse after their mother Karen died in explosion in 1889. Many of the orphans staying here got later on their ticket out when they were hired to work on the nearby farms in the age of around 10-15 years. For many elderly people Everdrup poorhouse was their last home. Most of them were sick already when arriving here and coffins were ordered every regularly. In some cases people only stayed for a short while in our house until getting a roof over their head, usually by a relative. One even traveled all the way to America to live by her daughters family.

 

The house was functioning as a poorhouse until 1905 when it was renovated to house old as a retirement home.