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Style of building

The house at Rasmusgaarden shows many features of what was typical building style in Røros. The main building, the house, is sited with its frontage facing out onto the street, and through the main entrance we gain access to the farm and livestock area with stables, stalls and other outhouses.

Randi Borgos

The cattle shed, which is built parallel to the main house, which has a door into a passageway and from there one enters the cow shed to the right and the stables to the left. At an angle to the main house is another stall with an added building which is the outside toilet.

The main building of Rasmusgaarden still stands, apart from some small changes, exactly as described in the insurance company’s fire insurance assessment forms of 1857. The house is built of wood over a single room plan on two floors, a typical example of old Røros buildings. From the rafted-wall, which faces south, the house is divided by rudimentary wooden planks in order to make a small passageway. On the first floor the passageway has doors leading to the sitting room, the street and the courtyard. In Røros this passageway was called ‘the doorway’. Sverre Odegaard, who has described building styles in Røros says that the placing of the passageway on the rafter side of the house was very typical for Røros both on single room plan houses and on double room plan houses. When the houses were so tightly squeezed together it seemed to be the most practical solution to have the passageway in this manner. In this way people could have access to the street and to the courtyard. In the passageway were the stairs up to the second floor where the passageway was called, ‘svala’ (a gallery or external passage.) From the gallery there is access to the upper chambers.

The upstairs rooms were often used for the storage of provisions and food. Items such as the ‘milk-container’ and the chest or box for storing flat bread (wafer bread) and dried meat would hang from hooks. Some houses used these upper rooms or lofts for the storage of clothes.

At the corner of the building there is a built on kitchen. This is also built in timber over two floors. From the kitchen there is a door, which leads out to the courtyard or garden. The room above the kitchen was used as a clothes loft.

  • Sverre A. Ødegaard

The outhouses at Rasmusgaarden also follow traditional design. According to the fire assessment documents from 1857 the cow shed and the stables were built of solid timber with rough-hewn planks as a cover. The property also had a separate stall (which could be used by visitors), which was built in the same way. There was space and provision for 10 horses. In separate papers it is recorded that this stable was very old even in 1857. Some years later the roof line was changed to join up with the cow shed. Since that time changes have taken place and the old timber is still in place. The cow shed has however been changed. Olaf R, Wintervold, the last person to keep domestic animals on the property built a new cattle shed in 1935. The new cattle shed has the same dimensions and was built on the same site as the old shed, and it has similar internal arrangements.

‘Types of houses in Røros.’

Sverre A. Odegaard writes in an article in Fjell Folk, arbok for Røros museum 1979 (Mountain People, a publication for Røros Museum of 1979):

Tronsan and Rasmusan – two neighbours in Storgata, about building styles in Røros.

Only 2/3 of the buildings, which were mentioned in title deeds from 1690 until mid 1700s, had a front room. They often had a side room, planked off in a simple manner, and used as a sitting room or kitchen. The first houses with chimneys were found in the ‘stuggerommet’ building, those houses with a double room floor plan. Later in the 1700s it became usual to build the chimney in a side room. In other words the usual early practice was to build a kitchen. Instead of a chimney a stove was installed in the sitting room.

We also hear of houses with only one all-purpose room, and we are told that these houses often had a built on porch. After some time, as the requirement for additional space increased, some of the old buildings were extended, or new, larger houses replaced the old. From the middle of 1700 until the middle of 1800 the town houses of Røros were subject to many changes. Many of the main houses started to take on the form of the houses we today recognise as an old Røros house.

These houses were supplied with new parts or rooms and are mentioned in some of our oldest source material. It was usual for a house to have a loft built on, and it was very usual for a house to have a separate built-on kitchen, or firehouse erected at the corner of the main building and facing in towards the courtyard or garden. The majority of houses at this time were on two floors.

In a traditional Røros house the rooms are in a set pattern. When we stand in the street facing such a house, almost always the frontage of the house faces the street or a wall, the overbuilt gatehouse is at one end of the house and through this is the entrance to the courtyard or garden behind. The entrance to the gatehouse is closed off, by either, single, or double doors. On one side of the gatehouse, against the sitting room or living room is the passageway giving access to the house, ‘dora,’ as it was known in Røros. This passageway usually has a door to the street at one end and a door to the garden at the other. The same passageway also has a door leading out to the gateway. Whether or not the main timbered building was built on a single room, or a double room plan, the passageway extends through the whole width of the house.

Next to the passageway is the very focal point of the living accommodation, the living or sitting room.

We also find other house types mentioned, for example, the house with a mid-passage way, which has often developed from a single or double room floor plan and has had a new room built on to the other side of the entrance. There are also some houses to be found with a kitchen in the middle, which have developed from a three-room floor plan.

One finds many variations of the basic types mentioned here.