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In Kokkola, vacation homes started to be built in Sannanranta in the 1860s. The wealthy wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The seashore was an attractive area and so Sannanranta began to develop. To the north of Sannanranta was a shallow island, Elba. Already at this time Elba was a popular summer resort and summer villages were also built in the Elba area.

Torsten Wilhelm Sevón bought a farm in the 1890s, which he transferred to Elba. Miss Gunvor Björklund bought the house in 1928. Later she married Dr. Ragnar F. Neunstedt, who finished the building in its present form in the 1930s. Here Neunstedt spent Christmas, Easter, and summers with her family. The Venetians, or the end of the holiday season, were also a major event. For this event, crabs, food and drink were bought, which was stored in the cellar under the patio. The beach and the terrace railings were decorated with torches.

Fredrik’s Day was also a great celebration because the second name of the Neunstedt men was Fredrik. The doctor was also a sports-minded person and he supported Sannanranta Pallopoikia. Fishing and sailing were also important to him. Elba also had a working sailing club, the Kokkola Sailors Association, which is still in operation today. On the opposite shore there is another club called Gamlakarleby Segelförening r.f.

In 1956, Folke Neunstedt sold his villa to the city of Kokkola. It was used as a children’s summer resort for many years. In 1991, it started to be used as an international youth center. A new kitchen and canteen was built in Elba in 1994. The building was expanded into a congress building in 1996.

Today, Villa Elba is a popular meeting, camp and festivity place by the sea, about 4 km from the center of Kokkola. Villa Elba offers programs for festivities, meetings, saunas and food. Villa Elba’s Nature School is one of the oldest in Finland. Their program is incorporated into the Finnish education system. Over the years, Villa Elba’s international activities have expanded considerably and are now one of the most important priorities of the Youth Center.

photo of the building
Villa Elba’s main building in February 2019