Höfði

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Höfði

Höfði is a house in Reykjavík, Iceland, best known as the location for the 1986 Reykjavík Summit meeting of presidents Ronald Reagan of the United States and Mikhail Gorbachev of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. That effectively was a step to the end of the Cold War. Within the building, the flags of the United States and the Soviet Union are cross-hung to commemorate the meeting.

The house was built in 1909 and is located at Félagstún. It was initially built for the French consul Jean-Paul Brillouin in Iceland, and was the exclusive residence of poet and businessman Einar Benediktsson (1864-1940) for many years.[1] From 1925 to 1937 painter Louisa Matthíasdóttir's family owned the house and resided there.[2]

In the 1940s and 1950s, it was home to the British Embassy in Reykjavík.[3] The city of Reykjavík purchased the house in 1958, restored it to its former glory. From then on it has been used for formal receptions and festive occasions.

On 25 September 2009, on the building's 100th birthday, Höfði was damaged in a fire.[4] All irreplaceable artifacts were saved.

In 2015, Einar Benediktsson's statue, by Ásmundur Sveinsson, was moved to a spot near Höfði house.

Construction[edit]

The house was prefabricated in Norway and shows the influence of Jugendstil, it was shipped to Iceland and erected in 1909 for the French Consul, before permission for the house had been granted by the city planning department.[5] At the time of construction it was the largest private estate in the city.[5]

Telecommunications history[edit]

The building was used to make the first radio communications between Iceland and the outside world on 26 June 1905, when contact was made with Poldhu in Cornwall, UK, with a Marconi antenna.

Local legend[edit]

The memoirs of one of the earliest occupants of Höfði state that the house is inhabited by the spirit of a young woman. Accounts vary on who she is but most commonly she is either a suicide or drowning victim.[6] John Greenway, who inhabited the house in 1952, insisted that it be sold and the British consulate moved elsewhere, because of what he called "bumps in the night".[7] He even applied for special permission from the Foreign Office to do so.[8] That same year the house was sold back to the Icelandic government.[7]

Popular local legends differ from the accounts of the house's inhabitants; the most popular of which is that the house is a Viking burial site.[8] For this reason locals say the liquor cabinet of the house is frequently raided by spirits.[8]

The legend has even gained recognition by the Foreign Ministry who have officially stated that "We do not confirm or deny that the Hofdi has a ghost."[6]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Iceland. Insight Guides, Discovery Channel, APA Publications. 2009. p. 155.
  2. ^ "Louisa Matthíasdóttir: Kyrrð". listasafnreykjavikur.is (in Icelandic). 2017-02-17. Retrieved 2019-04-10.
  3. ^ "Embassy History". Internet Archive. Archived from the original on October 9, 2008. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  4. ^ "Eldur í þaki Höfða" (in Icelandic). mbl.is. 2009-09-25. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  5. ^ a b Evans, Andrew. Iceland : the Bradt travel guide (3 ed.). ISBN 9781841624990. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  6. ^ a b McCartney, Robert J. (October 5, 1986). "A Supernatural Summit; More Stories Emerge That Potential Site For Superpower Talks Is a Haunted House". The Washington Post. pp. A33.
  7. ^ a b McCartney, Robert J. (October 4, 1986). "In the Spirit of Diplomacy; Reputedly Haunted House Is Likely Site for Talks". The Washington Post. pp. A1.
  8. ^ a b c Quinn, Matthew C. (October 10, 1986). "Historic 'haunted' house hosts summit". United Press International.

Coordinates: 64°08′47″N 21°54′24″W / 64.14639°N 21.90667°W / 64.14639; -21.90667