Stenbock House

Stenbock House is the seat of Government sessions and is where the Prime Minister and Government Office work daily. The first Government session in Stenbock House was held on 8 August 2000.

Although the building complex at Rahukohtu Street 3 has changed owners and functions over the years, it has always been called Stenbock House in works of art as well as historical sources and scholarly studies.

The representative house with a balcony with six Doric columns and a strictly Classical look was designed by architect Johann Caspahr Mohr for the courts of the province of Estonia but, when the house was finished in 1792, it became the town residence of Count Jakob Pontus Stenbock. After Stenbock's death, the house was used for various purposes until it first became a courthouse in 1891. It was the seat of courts until 1987.

After that, the house stood empty until 1996, when works began to restore it into the seat of the Government of the Republic and the Government Office. The first Government session in Stenbock House was held on 8 August 2000.

 

History of the Building

The prologue of Stenbock House on Toompea is related to the establishment of regency in the Baltic provinces in 1783

Prime Minister´s Office and Reception Rooms

The room on the central axis of 1st floor, originally built as a court office, is presently used as the Prime Minister's secretariat. 

Hall of the Elders of the State

The Hall of the Elders of State took its name from the portraits displayed there.

Government Session Hall

The western wing of the main building accommodates the largest room in the building where the Government of the Republic holds its weekly session every Thursday, using the electronic session system.

State Seal Hall

The State Seal Hall is named after the country’s most important seal, the State Seal, which is kept by the Secretary of State.

Secretary of State´s Office

The Secretary of State's office is located on the third floor of the Stenbock House and is furnished with furniture made of lemon tree.

Courtyard

The outbuilding is semi-circular only on the side facing the courtyard; the walls facing the street follow the boundaries of the lot with all their irregularities. 

More about the House

There are some more interesting things in the Stenbock House. 

About the Architecture of Stenbock House

When describing the architecture of Stenbock House, it should be taken into account that it was not initially built to be a palace of nobility but rather a state office, and that is why its general impression is quite laconic and simple, both inside and outside.

However, the placement of the buildings of the ensemble with its main building, the arc-shaped outbuilding and the courtyard between them is in line with the idea in the nobility state of the time that state offices in towns should follow the characteristic layout of the nobility's country estates.

On the other hand, the house was built in conditions of dire financial difficulties, which is one of the reasons behind its unpretentiousness. The three-storey stone main building is an austere, massive and balanced classical building. The facades opening to both the courtyard and the side facing the sea are simple and regular, adorned by windows with stepped framings and dentil roof cornices, with pediments and cornices above the windows of the first floor.

The sea facade

The facade facing the sea has six strong-shafted pilasters that have been adorned with simple Doric capitals. There is also a balcony resting on six Doric pillars and reaching up to the first floor of the building – this was demolished in the course of the 1891 alterations but has now been reconstructed according to the original blueprints and descriptions of the building.

Stenbock House. Photo: Toomas Volmer
The courtyard facade. Photo: Artur Sadovski
The State Seal at the courtyard facade. Photo: Artur Sadovski

The courtyard facade

The axis of the facade facing the courtyard is accentuated by 6 pilasters and 2 half-pilasters stretching over the first and second floors, supporting a triangular frontispiece with a dentil cornice lining. The bases of the pilasters as well as the spiral, Ionic capitals are made of dolomite from Saaremaa. They are a suitable and dynamic decoration to the building's laconic facade, demonstrating the suitability of Saaremaa's "marble" as a building material with several centuries of tradition behind it, for classical architecture.

Toompea panorama, Stenbock House in the middle. Photo: Toomas Volmer
A memorial plaque on the facade of the Stenbock House.

In memoriam

A memorial plaque In Memoriam hangs on the façade of Stenbock House right beside the gate, dedicated to the heads and members of government who perished in the communist terror.

The names of ten heads of government are on the plaque: Friedrich Akel, Ado Birk, Kaarel Eenpalu, Jüri Jaakson, Juhan Kukk, Ants Piip, Konstantin Päts, Otto Strandman, Jaan Teemant, and Jaan Tõnisson. The names of 56 members of government are also on the plaque alongside the heads of government. They all perished in 1941 or 1942.

Last updated: 30.09.2020