The Nottbecks – cosmopolitans of Tampere

Welcome to the life of the Nottbecks! The family’s history is inseparable from the growth and development of Tampere.The story begins in St.Petersburg.

In the early 19th century, many entrepreneurial people move to St. Petersburg. One of them is the Baltic-German trader Carl Samuel Nottbeck. He hears of a small cotton spinnery that is for sale in Tampere. Nottbeck and his associates buy the Finlayson factory in March 1836. The new owners boldly modernize the factory. In just a couple of years, a magnificent new building rises on the banks of the Tammerkoski rapids. Carl Samuel Nottbeck sends his 20-year-old son, Wilhelm, to Tampere to learn the art of running a factory.

In 1847, Wilhelm Nottbeck marries Constance von Mengden. The family enjoys the favour of the Russian Emperor. Nottbeck is raised to nobility in 1855, and the following summer, the Emperor is received for a visit by the family in Tampere.

The family lives a sumptuous life in Tampere, and they have little contact with the locals. Wilhelm, who manages the factory community, grows into a respected figure among the townspeople. His palace’s gardens and fine horses are admired by the locals.

Between 1848 and 1865, seven sons are born to the von Nottbecks: Carl, Wilhelm, Edvard, Peter, Alexander, and Ernst. One of the sons dies before he is given a name and baptized.

Peter von Nottbeck marries Olga von Tobiesen in 1888. They decide to build a new mansion for their family, Milavida. Neither of them ever gets to live in their palace: Olga dies in childbirth in October 1898, and Peter of appendicitis the following spring in 1899.

Now, Milavida is owned by four small orphans: Iris, Andrée, Alfred and Olga. They live in the mansion with their servants from autumn 1899 to autumn 1902. Their guardian, Edvard von Nottbeck, sells the estate to the City of Tampere in 1905.

In the early years of the 20th century, the members of the von Nottbeck family leave Tampere one by one. Today, their descendants live in Switzerland and Canada, among other places. The Nottbecks were the cosmopolitans of their day, leaving behind a bustling industrial center for a small town. Their capital and international contacts were instrumental in the development of Tampere.