Tartu ülikooli farmaatsia instituudi asukoha otsingud 19. ja 20. sajandil. Searching for the location of the Institute of Pharmacy of the University of Tartu in the 19th and 20th century

  • Ken Ird


There has been an Institute of Pharmacy at the University of Tartu
since 1843 and its more than 175-year-long history has been studied
relatively well. Regrettably, the authors of several recent prominent
historical studies have propagated an incorrect understanding about
the very first location of the institute in Tartu. Thus, this article aims
to fix that error on the basis of primary sources and to give an overview
of the unrealized plans for finding suitable lodgings for the institute
in the 19th and 20th century.
An independent pharmaceutical institute was founded in the
University of Tartu owing to a supplementary budget approved by
the Russian emperor Nicolas I in 1842. The first attempts to find
an appropriate location for the institute were already made in November
and December 1842 (Stiernhielm house, figure 1, No. 1), but
the project was hindered by the completely opposite opinions of Carl
Christian Traugott Friedemann Goebel, Professor of Chemistry, and
Carl Friedrich Eduard Siller, Professor of Pharmacy.
Professor Goebel energetically advocated for a new building. In
February 1843 he proposed a sketch for the building of the Institute
of Pharmacy by the university architect Christoph Conrad Stremme
(figure 2). The building was to be erected next to the slopes of Toome
Hill (figure 1, No. 2).
Stremme’s monumental plan got tangled in centralized Russian
bureaucracy. Instead, the Ministry of National Education declared
that it had been decided to buy the Essen house (figure 1, No. 3). Until
the conclusion of the transaction, the institute was instructed to
lease rooms in some townhouse.
Professor Siller rapidly found suitable lodgings right at the centre
of Tartu in a building owned by Hermann Köhler. Although this
was initially considered a temporary solution, it later turned out
that the institute had to remain in that location for many decades to

come. Köhler’s house was situated on what is now Kompanii Street
(Kompanii 3/5, figure 1, No. A), which Dr Hermann Köhler and his
heirs owned from 1829 to 1876. However, already since the 1930s a
misconception about the location of Köhler’s house started to spread
in prominent writings about the history of the Institute of Pharmacy.
Different authors spread the incorrect statement that the institute
was at a building on the town hall square called “the tilted house”
(Raekoja plats 18). Such confusion apparently originates from the fact
that both of these houses belonged to different non-related persons
bearing the family name Köhler. Yet, Raekoja plats 18 was acquired
by Mr Theodor Köhler only in 1878, at a time when the neighbouring
building at Kompanii 3/5 had already been sold off by the heirs of
Hermann Köhler and the Institute of Pharmacy had moved out from
Kompanii Street.
Therefore, the first location of the Institute of Pharmacy in Tartu
was at Kompanii 3/5. The university continued to work on a completely
new institute building, and a new and more modest building was
proposed by the architect of the university, Karl Winkler (figure 3). In
the following years, preparations were made to start with the construction
at Näituse 2 (figure 1, No. 2). However, the whole plan was
brought to a standstill in 1848 by the minister of national education
“until further notice”.
Only in 1857 new hope arose for the institute, when merchant Carl
Gustav Reinhold informed that he was willing to sell his townhouse
to the university (figure 1, No. 4). This proposal found no favour with
Carl Ernst Claus, Professor of Pharmacy, and Carl Rathaus, university
architect. Already the following year a new proposition was made
for the university to buy the townhouse of Carl Eduard von Liphart
(figure 1, No. 5). The plan wasn’t realised, mostly due to ongoing inflation
and state budget deficit.
In 1864 Professor Johann Georg Noël Dragendorff became the
new director of the Institute of Pharmacy. Together with Georg Philipp
von Oettingen, Professor of Ophthalmology, he found that the
new townhouse of Gustav Frommhold von Nolcken (figure 1, No. 7)
would be a suitable location for both the pharmaceutical institute
and the ophthalmological clinic. However, Baron von Nolcken was
not satisfied with the proposed purchase price. The university tried to

renovate the former dwellings of the university equerry. The reconstruction
plan was prepared by university architect Carl Rathaus (figure
4), but the university council was opposed to the plan.
In 1870 the administration of the state school district was moved
from Tartu to Riga. Its former location in the so-called “old university
building” at the town hall square (figure 1, No. B) was offered to
the Institute of Pharmacy and in autumn 1870 the institute finally
moved out from its original location in Köhler’s house at Kompanii
Street to Raekoja plats 6.
Soon it became evident that more space was needed for the
growing institute. A new building was planned for the institutes of
the university already since the 1920s but the idea only started to
be realized in 1937. The university sold the old university building to
Tartu municipal bank and the profits were used to start planning a
new building for pharmacists right next to the main building of the
university (figure 1, No. C). The university proposed an alternative
location (figure 1, No. 8) to gather the whole Faculty of Medicine in
a single location. Eventually the proposal was abandoned and in autumn
1939 the pharmacists finally moved to a new building specially
designed to meet their academic and scientific needs.
The Institute of Pharmacy got its very own building only after a
hundred years of discussions. An undying hope dating back to the
19th century imperial university was realised when the Estonian-language
university celebrated its 20th anniversary. This building was
meant to be the first phase in the urban reconstruction of the whole
academic campus around the university’s main building. The Second
World War and the following years of Soviet occupation brought this
grandiose idea to an end, but curiously enough, allow everyone to
marvel at the district around the main building in its historic beauty