a garden party at the old pharmacy in the late 19th century

a garden party at the old pharmacy in the late 19th century

 a rebuilt "old Pharmacy" in late summer 2017

a rebuilt "old Pharmacy" in late summer 2017

The house in Aðalstræti 4, the Old Pharmacy, was the grandest house in Akureyri when it was built in 1859. It was designed and built by Jón Chr. Stephánsson who we later discovered was a great-great grandfather of a good friend of ours. Jón had spent several years in Denmark learning his craft and came back with new ideas on how to build wooden houses. The house served as the first pharmacy in Akureyri, and as the residence of pharmacist Jóhann Thorarensen who lived on the upper floor with his family while the pharmacy occupied the ground floor.

As with many historic wooden houses in Iceland, the pharmacy suffered various indignities in the second half of the 20th century. It was coated with concrete, and was gradually rotting. 

In 2014 Minjavernd, the company  responsible for saving many of Iceland´s historic houses, got their hands on the house and started rebuilding it from scratch. Minjavernd are meticulous about their projects. Every piece of wood that could be salvaged was cleaned and restored before being put in storage. The house was lifted off its foundation and stored down by the harbour while a new foundation was built. It was then moved back to its original place. A team of highly-skilled craftsmen was hard at work for the best part of two years, and now the house is ready for a new role.