Reitir's Historical Buildings

Reitir is one of the largest owners of properties in the Kvosin area. Many of the buildings have a unique history and architectural details.

Reitir's Historical Buildings
Reitir focuses on maintaining historic houses and enriching the city by preserving their history.

By keeping improved environment and enrichment of the community in Kvosin as its guiding light, Reitir seeks to increase knowledge of the history of the area and respect for its cultural and economic value. Some carefully renovated historic buildings were purchased from Minjavernd in 2007, and Reitir has focused on high-quality maintenance of these buildings in consultation with Minjavernd. In 2012, plaques relating the history of the buildings were installed on 12 properties in the centre of Reykjavík.

Aðalstræti 2

Aðalstræti 2 "Ingólfsnaust" er í eignasafni Reita

Aðalstræti 2, together with the buildings facing Vesturgata, are collectively named Ingólfsnaust, or Ingólfur’s landing, as according to oral history this was where Ingólfur Árnason, the first settler, landed his boats. The remains of the landing site were still visible in the 18th century. Following the formation of a town by the Reykjavík inlet itself around 1780, the first merchant built his houses on this very site. The merchant was Danish and named Sünckenberg. Prior to this, there were retail premises on the islands off the shore (Hólmskaupstaður, or Hólmur village). The current front building, facing Aðalstræti, was built in 1855, while the back houses, used as the merchant’s warehouses, were built for the most part in 1905. At the time, the buildings were owned by the company H. P. Duus which was responsible for extensive trade and sailboat operations in Reykjavík. The buildings were renovated by Minjavernd according to their original appearance in 1999 to 2003 and linked together with a connecting structure made of glass.

Aðalstræti 12

Aðalstræti 12 er í eignasafni Reita

Björn Jónsson, editor and later government minister, built the house that now stands at Aðalstræti 12, in 1886 on plot No. 8 in Austurstræti. He published the weekly paper Ísafold as of 1874, and the print shop and building took their name from the paper. His apartment was on the upper floor, while the print shop was on the ground floor, where the Morgunblaðið daily newspaper was printed from its establishment in 1913 to 1956. The building was dismantled and transported onto a new basement foundation in Aðalstræti in 1999. The building was renovated by Minjavernd.

Austurstræti 12 and 12a

Austurstræti 12 is one of the houses built after the great fire in 1915. The artist Jóhannes Kjarval had a studio in the uppermost floor of the building of Austurstræti 12 for a number of years. Not only did he work there, but he also lived there from the time that the top floor was added to the building in 1929 until he died in 1972. In 1933, he displayed murals, Lífshlaupið, that he had painted on the walls of the building. Approximately 40 years later, when the artist died, the murals were removed and the work repaired.

Margrét Zoëga had the building at Austurstræti 12a constructed in 1922 according to the drawings of Jens Eyjólfsson, master builder, to replace Hotel Reykjavík that was destroyed by the Reykjavík fire in 1915. The building was two floors until 1970 when three floors were added on top of it. The building was initially designed and built in the “Jugend-style”.

Austurstræti 14

Reitir fasteignafélag - Austurstræti 14

As of 1900 until around 1970, Austurstræti was considered the principal street in Reykjavík. The street was Reykjavík's cultural and retail centre as well as the main nightlife area. Einar Benediktsson, poet and entrepreneur, revered by Icelanders, bought the plot at Austurstræti 14 in 1906, then thought to be the most expensive plot in Iceland. The present building, which is four floors built in classical style, was built in 1928 by Jón Þorláksson, who was the Prime Minister and Mayor of Reykjavík for a while. The building’s architect was Einar Erlendsson. On the gable facing Pósthússtræti, there is a bas-relief by Guðmundur Einarsson from Miðdal showing the arrival of settler Ingólfur Arnarson. The ground floor accommodated shops for the majority of the buildings history, such as Soffíubúð, Herradeild P&Ó, ladies’ ware London and the tobacco shop London. Since 1992, the building has housed the hugely popular Café París.

Pósthússtræti 3 and 5

Reitir fasteignafélag - Pósthússtræti 3 6 5

The building at Pósthússtræti 3 (Postoffice street) is constructed of dressed stone much like the building housing Alþingi (Icelandic parliament). Its designer was F. A. Bald, who was also master-builder of the Iceland's Parlament building, constructed in 1881. The building is the first major construction undertaken by the city council of Reykjavík and housed the Reykjavík Children’s School from 1883 to 1898. A post office was operated in the building from 1898 to 1915. In addition, the headquarters of Landssíminn, The National Telephone Company, was housed there from 1906 to 1931.

Thereafter, the building housed the Reykjavík Police headquarters until they moved to Hlemmur in 1965. The basement of the building contained notorious jail cells, mainly used to incarcenate men arrested for public inebriation. After 1965, the building was again allotted to the Reykjavík Postal Office which remained in the building until 2018, together with e.g. Hitt húsið.

The building at Pósthússtræti 5 was the third post office that has stood in Pósthússtræti and the name of the street, therefore, entirely fitting. It was constructed in 1914 according to Rögnvaldur Ólafsson's design.

Hótel Borg - Pósthússtræti 7-9

Reitir fasteignafélag - Hótel Borg

Hótel Borg is an elegant hotel located at Pósthússtræti 9-11 in Reykjavík. The rooms are all decorated in Art Deco style and reflect, thereby, the external appearance and history of the hotel. The building was designed in 1917 by Guðjón Samuelsson, the former State Architect of Iceland. The newer wing of the hotel, Pósthússtræti 9, was built in 1959. The hotel was built by Jóhannes Jósefsson in 1930. Jóhannes had built a reputation overseas as a wrestler and performed with Barnum & Bailey Circus and participated in the Olympic games in 1908. He returned to Iceland as a well-off man, and with the help of Jónas frá Hriflu (prominent Icelandic politician), he decided to invest in the construction of a luxury hotel, the first in Iceland. The cornerstone of the hotel was laid in 1928. Only 18 months later, or in January 1930, Hotel Borg opened its restaurant, and four months after that, the hotel itself was opened. After the opening of the hotel, Jóhannes was usually called "Jóhannes at Borg".

Hafnarstræti 91, Akureyri

Reitir fasteignafélag - Hafnarstræti 91

The building was built in 1930 according to Sveinbjörn Jónsson's design for Kaupfélag Eyfirðinga (Eyjafjörður Co-op). KEA, as the co-op was generally referred to, had its headquarters in the building for 76 years, or to the year 2006. When the house was built, it was the largest and grandest in the town. It is built in concrete and is three floors and a loft. The base layout is in the shape of an L, and it has a sizeable goods delivery area behind it. The building is well decorated around its windows and below the roof. The co-op shop was on the ground floor for most of its history, but in 1996, the book shop Bókval took over the premises. By 2019, a bookshop was still being operated in the building, under the name Eymundsson. The upper floors continue to be used for offices.

Grjótagata 4

Reitir fasteignafélag - Grjótagata 4

The history of the plot at Grjótagata 4 is that at the time of the “Innréttingarnar” (industrialization of Iceland) and until 1811, the building “Skálinn” stood there, a sod building that served as a dormitory for the “Innréttingar”. The building that now stands at Grjótagata 4 was built by carpenter Einar Pálsson in 1896 to replace Gröndalshús, which had stood there from 1811 to 1896, was demolished. Einar was a well-known carpenter in Reykjavík and built, among other things, the Iðanaðarmannahúsið (Iðnó theatre) in 1897. From 1900 to 1920, the sculptor Stefán Eiríksson had a drawing studio and workshop in the basement. Many carpenters and artists studied with Stefán Eiríksson in the building, and it has, therefore, a firm place in Icelandic art history. The building is a metal-protected wooden building, two floors, a basement, and a low loft. The basement currently houses offices, while the two floors above contain two hotel suites, each of which are operated as part of Hotel Centrum. The remarkable thing about the building is that all its sides are equal in length and all the windows and doors have remained original. The building was in quite good condition when renovations began. Borgarsjóður (Reykjavík City Treasury) acquired the house in 1973 and was responsible for the renovations. During renovations, the building was adapted to conform to the requirements of the Building Regulation and fire protection regulations. Minjavernd was responsible for project management and management of all practical matters. Particular efforts were made to preserve the building’s architectural history. Care was taken to preserve decorative moldings, rosettes and other original building materials during the renovation.  

Vesturgata 2a - Zimsen house

Reitir fasteignafélag - Vesturgata 2a

The building is 668.5 m2 and was originally built in two stages on the site at Hafnarstræti 21. Overall, the building is over 110 years old. It achieved its current appearance, size, and form in 1899. The older part of the building, the south end, is somewhat older, probably from 1835. Jes Zimsen ran a shop in the building for many years, and the building is still named after him. In addition, a taxi service was operated from the building for a number of years. Minjavernd was responsible for the transport and rebuild which took place between 2006 and 2009 and aimed to reclaim the original style of the building. The internal support structure had been altered considerably over the years but was returned to its original state. The building’s foundations were reconstructed using the same dressed stones as it had stood on in Hafnarstræti. Originally, the building stood on the shoreline. Over the years, however, land was reclaimed and wharfs were built on the north side of the house. Excavations have shown their development from rather primitive constructions to well-dressed stones set in concrete. The decision was made to move a part of this history with the building, and the old stone wharfs were therefore excavated and each stone labeled. They were then reconstructed to form a sunken outdoor area with a bridge across that is on the east side of the building.

Barónsstígur 4

Reitir fasteignafélag - Barónsstígur 4

Barónsstígur 4 is also named Barónsfjósið (the Baron’s cowshed). A French Baron, Charles Gouldrée Boillea, had the cowshed built 1899. The cowshed was the first concrete building in the city and, when built, was intended to house 50 animals. The Baron’s scope of operations in Iceland was considerable but did not prove profitable and he went bankrupt. For a long time, the cowshed was used as storage for Rafmagnsveita Reykjavíkur (Reykjavík Energy) but has, in recent years, housed a grocery store.  

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