The History of House No. 13 on Edinburgh Avenue

Houses, like people, each have their own destiny. And their lives go through phases: some calm and tumultuous, happy and bitter. Sometimes, a house's biography can be more complex and tangled than that of a person. The fate of a house largely depends on its owners and inhabitants, as well as the events that occur within its walls.


From Boarding House to Sanatorium: The Story of a House's Transformation in Edinburgh

The house was likely built at the beginning of the 20th century. No information could be found about the first owners. In the 1920s, the house was bought by a Jewish family, who rented rooms with boarding during the summer season. Before the revolution, Jews were not only forbidden to purchase property here, but even the mere sight of a Jew strolling in Edinburgh could be grounds for arrest.

The next owner of the house in 1925 was a Lutheran pastor and poet named Janis Steiks, an intriguing personality. In 1931, the pastor transferred his property to the Latvian corporation "Lettonia," and the house entered a turbulent time, filled with merriment and feasts hosted by its new restless inhabitants.

With the establishment of Soviet rule in Latvia in 1940, the house was confiscated, and many of the corporation's members were repressed. After the war, the house was converted into a vacation home and then into the year-round sanatorium "Selga." Its occupants were Soviet workers who came here for rest from different parts of the country, and the administration of the boarding house was located in House No. 13. For many years, the director of the boarding house was Fedot Avdeevich Zhukovsky, a retired colonel and excellent organizer. In 1991, the USSR collapsed, and the boarding house was soon closed. Troubled times followed, with frequent changes of owners and tenants. In the new millennium, various commercial firms occupied the space.

The History of House No. 13 on Kara Street (now Edinburgh Avenue). Owner: Pastor Janis Steiks


For six years (from 1925 to 1931) the owner of the house was the Lutheran pastor and poet Janis Steix (1855-1932). In the early 1930s he fell on hard times and was literally destitute. Apparently this prompted him in 1931 to give his house to the student corporation "Lettonia", of which he was one of the founders and a filist. In return, the corporation gave him a comfortable furnished room on the top floor of the corporation's house at 55 Valdemāra Street in Riga and undertook to take care of Mr. Steicke for the rest of his life.

About Pastor Steak

Some newspapers published false reports that some student organization had allegedly forced Steak to donate his property to it, and so on. In this regard, Pastor Muehlenbach, chairman of the Lettonia Philistine Relief Society, made a clarification to the press: Steak is a philister of the Lettonia Corporation. Approaching the end of his life, Steik gave his property in Jurmala to the student society. The property was legally transferred to the Lettonia Filister Society. The Philister Society assumed the obligation to support Stejk for the rest of his life.

He was given a good room on the top floor of the corporation house at No. 55 Valdemar Street. When the police arrived, Steak was dressed in rags, so the police saw for themselves what clothes he lived in on the seaside. Now new clothes have been bought for him. Pastor Steik himself also explains: "Lettonia" Philister's Aid Society legally obtained from me my real estate in Dzintari, Kara street No. 13, and I myself determined my present place of residence". (Article in the newspaper "Latvijas Kareivis" of 27.08.1931)

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About Pastor Janice Stacks, priest, teacher, poet and weirdo

Janis Steiks (1855-1932), Lutheran pastor, teacher, and poet, was born in the village of Umurga, Venden district, Livonia province. He graduated from the University of Terbat (1880-1885, theologian). As an assistant pastor-priest served in Krimuld and Lavra village, Pskov province, pastor - in the Caucasus. He worked as a teacher in Pskov province. Because of freethinking speeches in 1905 he was forced to leave for the USA, and was a pastor in Boston (1905-1921) and New York (1921-23). In 1923 he returned to Latvia and served as a priest in Limbaži, but because of his strange behavior (he did not wear a priest's dress, preached strange sermons) and conflicts with his superiors and parishioners he was dismissed from his duties as a pastor. In 1925 he bought a house in Jurmala. He was known for his original views on the history of Latvia and the language of its people. For example, he lectured on how the Latvians founded London, claimed that the name "Odessa" comes from the fact that once a Latvian saw meat there and exclaimed: "O, desa!" (Oh, sausage!). In Latvian literature he is considered the only Latvian poet of the absurd.


Portrait of Ya. Stakes on a U.S. postcard (1923)


Pastor Janis Steaks


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History of house No. 13 on Kara Street (now Edinburgas Avenue). Owner: Latvian student corporation "Lettonia" (1931-1940)

In 1931, this house was purchased by the Latvian student corporation "Lettonia" from the previous owner - pastor and poet Janis Steiks (1855-1932), who in return was provided with housing and care in the corporation's house at 55 Valdemāra Street in Riga. A new streak began in the history of the house, full of noise and unrestrained fun of the new numerous inhabitants, full of energy and ventures.

However, all this came to an end with the advent of Soviet power in 1940. On July 13, 1940, the Minister of Public Affairs decided to close all life-long closed-type academic organizations (student corporations, scout organizations, etc.). Their movable and immovable property was confiscated and members were subjected to repressions.

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Lettonia corporators near their Riga home at 55 Valdemāra St. (1920s-1930s)

History of the house No. 13 on Y. Gagarin Avenue (now Edinburgas Avenue). Boarding house "Selga" (1950s-1990s)

The noisy company of corporate students was replaced by workers from different parts of the Soviet Union: after the Second World War, a rest house was opened in the house No. 13 on Kara Street (since 1961 Y. Gagarin Avenue). At first it was named as rest house No. 9 "Dzintari", and in 1962 it was renamed into the pension "Selga". In the 1970s new buildings were built for the boarding house.

It housed a dining room, a club, rooms for vacationers, and the old building No. 13 housed the administration of the boarding house. In "Selga" the leisure time of holidaymakers was perfectly organized: concerts, creative meetings, lectures, exhibitions of Latvian artists were organized in the club. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991 the boarding house was soon closed.


The Kochnev family on vacation at the Selga boarding house. "Zvaigzne" No. 21 of 01.11.1980


But nowadays the house No. 13 on Kara Street has undergone significant changes and has been transformed into a private VIP class club. It has created a comfortable atmosphere for recreation and celebrations. The club offers a club area with a stage and light and sound equipment, rest rooms and VIP bedroom, a self-contained SPA-zone with Finnish sauna and whirlpool baths, a green area and a place for barbecue.

Thus, House No. 13 continues to serve as a place for recreation and entertainment as before, but now in a more luxurious and comfortable version. The Royall Club has become a new chapter in the history of the famous house on Cara Street.

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