The King’s Mill: Within two years, the beautiful old building from 1803 – formerly owned by the Grüner family – and the Nedre Foss area will revive. Photo: Leif Gjerland/Osloby
Recently, the first symbolic ‘dig’ was taken on what will become the Nedre Foss Park area, downtown Oslo. The former “King’s Mill” will revive, and in two years, the old deserted mill site will become a concert venue, playground and flower park.
It is not the first time the area by the Aker River in Oslo is undergoing a complete renovation: The story of Nedre Foss is a roller coaster of transformations.
In the Middle Ages, Hovedøya Abbey owned Nedre Foss, and already in 1220, it was described as a mill that belonged to the Cistercian order. They transported grains up the Aker River by boat.
The Reformation came in 1537, and the King took all church and monastery estate – including the profitable mill at Nedre Foss. It was thus nicknamed “King’s Mill”. In 1672, King Christian V sold the large farm to his close friend Friedrich Grüner. He was the origin of the name Grünerløkka – today one of Oslo’s most urban neighborhoods.
In 1880, then 16-year-old Edvard Munch painted a watercolor of “Grünerhaven” (The Grüner Garden) towards Telthusbakken. The motif is called “Bjerketrærne ved dammen” (The Birch Trees by the Pond). Photo: Edvard Munch / Oslo Museum
Throughout the 1700s, the Grüner family established a magnificent garden with paths, ponds and avenues. They made a small island in the river and built a gazebo. In addition to a zoo with geese, turkeys and even a peacock, it is easy to understand that the Grüner Garden was an exotic part of Christiania (former name for Oslo).
From the mid-1800s, Grünerløkka became a working class area and the Grüner family chose to erect a high and dense fence around the garden – which resulted in decay.
In 1938, it was taken over by Oslo municipality. In contemporary social democratic spirit, the shuttered garden was turned into an open park and ball court with access for all. In the 1980s, threatening plans of hotels, offices and residential buildings appeared, before it in 1990 was valued as part of the Aker River environmental park.
For decades, it has been a vacuous part of the walkway along the Aker River, but now it seems that Nedre Foss finally can regain some of the glory from the 1700s.
Text modified by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews