Pleasant living environment

Although the companies operating in Jämsänkoski built housing for their workers, large workers' housing estates did not develop there, like in many other paper industry locations. Nevertheless, as early as in the days of the sawmill, workers' houses were built at Koskisaari, and Rekolankoksi sawmill also had workers' housing. The Jämsänkoski sawmill dwellings burned down with the pulp mill in 1896. At the beginning of the 1900s, most of the workers lived in privately or company-rented accommodation, located mostly around Koskikeskinen. The company also bought houses around the village and rented them on as tied accommodation.

Uusi-Kekkula was completed in 1913 for housing clerical workers. The building was later known as Rinnemaja. Photo from Pauli Nevalainen’s collection.Housing for clerical workers was built by the company. Among others, Uusi-Kekkula, which was later known as Rinnemaja, was completed in 1913. The name came from the factory cashier, Heikki Solin, who was locally known as Kekku-Solin. The company's foresters lived in Vanha-Kekkula, on the banks of Lavaoja. Naturally, the clerical staff house Villa in Koskisaari, later used as the factory club, and the Superintendent's house still standing by Patalankoski bridge, were company-built.

During the 'Million Summer' of 1920 several building projects were started, and the company also built dwellings. Konila and Kakaravaara were built for clerical staff, Kinkama had already been built earlier. Murju, with the number A 88, became the best known of the workers' buildings. It got its name from being inhabited before completion. The first residents were migrant workers from other parts of the country and Germans. Because of the men with rucksacks, the building was first called Jätkä-Murju. Murju had eight dwellings of 38 square metres and a room with a stove of 16 square metres.

The rent for a company dwelling was 2 markka per square metre in the 1920s. The electric light was charged separately. For some skilled workers, like machine supervisors and foremen, free housing was part of the salary. The rent represented three or four days' wages in the normal pay scale.

Aaku’s cottage, moved from Kinula at Jämsänkoski to the Aarresaari museum area.Jokinen's cottage at Aarresaari museum provides a good idea of a Jämsänkoski worker family's standard of living at the beginning of the 1900s. Factory worker Aaku Jokinen and his family lived in a one-room cottage, which at its worst housed 14 people. In addition to his own family, the grandparents were accommodated, and they kept a lodger.

Support for construction of private houses

Jämsänkoski had the worst housing conditions of all United's mill locations. The financial cutbacks of the 1920s included the construction of dwellings. The first private houses financed by company loans were built in the Oinaala and Korentola areas in the 1930s. In addition to building houses, the company also encouraged its workers to care for their environment. The first company-sponsored best kept garden competition was held at Jämsänkoski in 1936. Competitions spread throughout the company's mill locations to improve the environment and to bond the permanent staff to the place in which they lived. The prize-winning yards were frequently featured in the staff magazine.

Juuso Walden, the Managing Director, was enthusiastic about the ideology of garden towns and sought to apply this to the planning of his factory locations. From the 1930s the company employed Architect Heimo Kautonen to draw up town plans; he was also responsible for planning the Kaipola area. Correspondingly, the type plans for the private houses were drawn up by Esko Aro, B.Sc. (Eng.) in the 1950s and 60s. In its private housing estates the company took responsibility for the building of the infrastructure and the roads.

The Kaipola factory and most of the company-built houses were designed by Architect Pekka Saarema. The company did its own construction. Kaipola was planned to be a community of 4,000 inhabitants, but the actual number was fewer than 2,000. Three-storey apartment blocks rose in the centre of Kaipola, and private houses were built on the fringes. Terraced houses intended for higher officials were completed at Tiirinniemi in 1953. The subsidiary company Roukko Oy built blocks of flats at Kaipola and Jämsänkoski.

According to United's housing strategy, staff moving from one place to another were to live in the company's tied dwellings, and the permanent workforce in private houses. A loan for building a private house and later for the purchase of a flat was obtainable from the company. The self-builder could choose his favourite from the company's plans. Only from the 1960s onwards could you build more freely. Between 1952 and 1969, 300 private houses were built at Kaipola and Jämsänkoski with the help of a company loan, and tied accommodation built by the company amounted to 284 dwellings.

Private houses at Oinala in Jämsänkoski. In the 1950s many houses still had a wood shingle roof, which had originally been intended to be temporary.