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The medieval gray stone Karleby church was built ca 1500. The appearance of that first church is not known, only that there was a choir window in the east gable. The building represented the style of church building used in the 1300's in Swedish Finland.

The hall had a thin arch similar to the churches in Kemi and Storkyro. Archangel Mikael was the patron saint of the church during the Catholic period. In a picture from the 1600's one can see two small squares that jut out from the church in the south. Both probably were church porches or entrance halls. The east door was an entrance for the priest. In the 1930's, near the area of the west annex in the long wall under the floor level, an opening was found that was not bricked with gray stone. Probably the old south door for the congregation was here. The entrance hall was probably of wood.

In the 1600's there was a church to the south of the church where Finnish language services were held. No notes have been found about the fate of that church. It was destroyed during the Stora Ofreden (war between Finland and Russia, 1721).

In 1699 the sacristry was extended with two branches. A vaulted brick wine cellar was built under the altar in 1666. In 1759 the church was covered with brick-colored plaster. It was probably the first time the church was completely plastered. Inspection reports from 1760 state that the church was 28.5 m. X 13.8 m. large. The height of the gable was 18 m. and the thickness of the walls was 1.8 m. but the walls became thinner at the top.

In the 1760's an expansion was planned to a cruciform of the same height as the old church. The expansion drawings were signed by C. F. Aldercrantz in 1786. The expansion was finished in 1789. It required many extensive alterations. The proportions between the roof- and wall height was another; the wall space had one architectural division with ceiling mouldings, one in the plastered base, corner, porch, large window; the west gable was modeled the same as the remaining gables. A church tower was planned by C. F. Sundvall in 1797. It was finished in 1803.

Few traces remain of the old church that was modernized according to the demands of the time. Some church paintings are found in the church from the Catholic time. Some of them are from the time when the church was built. The paintings on the choir wall were done by Christian Hendhersson Wilbrandt in 1640. Bishop Gegelius advised the congregation in 1698 to white-lime the inside walls. The wall paintings were painted over probably during the first half of the 1700's.

The pulpit, the oldest presently in use in Finland, was restored in 1749. A new alter piece was done the same year. The seats were made at the end of the 1700's but were changed 1933-34. Three paintings from 1902 are part of the present communion table.

In 1952-53 the church was restored under the direction of Erik Kråkström. The walls were plastered and white-limed; from 1843 the walls had been yellow and the stone base red. The roof was partially covered with new shingles. The cement base from the 1930's was rough-coated with metal tiles and the tower roof had a new railing. The old paintings found on the interior walls were restored.

To stop the echo in the church, the walls were covered with asbestos and sound boxes placed in the arch. A layer of glass wall insulation was put on the arch and paneling in 1907. The floor was partially renewed. The half-round window over the east door was again walled up and covered the frame from the middle ages that was in the niche of the door.

Some of the medieval churches are preserved, one as a ruin. Jakobstad's parish church was almost entirely restored at the end of the 1700's. Medieval stone churches are also found in Storkyro, Närpes, Kemi and Nedertorneå. Korsholm's church was destroyed by a fire in Vasa in the mid-1800's. Only the ruins remain.

Karleby church is noted in Catalog #15 as an historically valuable object in Vasa province; also in Catalog #58 as a valuable object in the country.


The first bone house here was built in 1796. A new one was built in 1828. The mortuary was restored in 1871 when the funeral chapel was built. It was designed by master builder Johan Stoor. It had two doors and eight windows, an open cupola and a paneled interior. The chapel was restored 1948-49 from a design by Annie Krokfors.

The first bone house was in the cemetery. The foundation is still visible in the south end. When the church was changed to a cruciform church in the mid 1700's the old cemetery became too small. A new cemetery was established around the new bone house. When it became full, Elisabeth's cemetery was started in 1848.

The funeral chapel is an 8-sided wooden building. The roof has an 8-sided skylight in the middle. On each side of the walls and skylight is a small window. The main entrance is in the south toward Kyrkovägen. The back door was changed in 1908 to a window; the floor is cement and walls and ceiling are paneled. The original chapel was externally painted in light gray and had an oak-stained door, white window trim, white roof cornices and golden yellow cross. Presently the chapel is white. The roof was first covered with shingles, but is now of sheet metal.


Karleby's new parsonage, built in 1736-37 according to the wishes of pastor Karl Gustaf Werander, is the oldest parsonage in its original style still in use in Finland. It was made considerably larger than should have been allowed by the parliamentary resolution of 1727. Pastor Jacob Chydenius lived there 1746-66 and his son Anders lived there 1770-1803.

In contrast to earlier parsonages, this new one had all of the rooms under one roof. That meant that the old system of separate buildings around a yard was abandoned. The maintenance was cheaper because only one large building was built. It was erected on the north side of the yard and was remarkably large, 51 ells long and 16 ells wide. The city built two square identical rooms in the east end. The parish built the remaining rooms, dining room, book room, large hall (16 x 14 ells) and two rooms in the western gable. The building had 16 6-paned glass windows, as tall as they were wide, 2 ells, with 2 bars of lead. The outer door was double and the remaining 8 doors were single with 2 mirrors in each door.

The timber for the building was procured by the citizens in the late winter of 1737 and it was built in the summer of the same year; at least one of the rooms had woven tapestry with paintings. The entrance was in the same style as that of many manor homes in southern Finland. The stately parsonage had a great influence on buildings in the area. Mayor Noreen thought the parsonage was a proper residence for a high official. Some other wealthy citizens in the city tried to imitate the building's splendor by building a house with more rooms. The interior was also more impressive that previous buildings.

It is probable that in the beginning the parsonage lacked outer boarding. Red boards were first customary in the 1780's and thereafter buildings were covered with boards. The present covering is ribbed panels painted golden yellow that were put on during the time of Anders Chydenius. At the same time a shingle roof was put on the building. The roof was originally covered with straw, later with boards and the third time with wood shingles.

The high pitched roof and the low walls link the parsonage of Carolinian baroque with the prototype of the architecture of the native Swedish manor house. When the parsonage was rebuilt in the 1870's the large hall was divided into three parts. In front of Anders Chydenius' long room was a modern and magnificent veranda in the style of the times. The long room was used as a hall. In the beginning of the 1940's the long room and front of the building were restored.

On the east side of the yard was a dwelling for the chaplain. The building that was built on the site of the old parsonage was originally the carriage shed for the new parsonage. It was here during the Finnish war that the wounds of Wilhelm von Schwerin were tended. Later the pastor's tenant farmer lived there with his family.

The building has timber framework, covered with ribbed panels painted red. The roof is a saddle roof and on the long side is an open porch. The windows are 6-paned. The casing boards are white. There is a vaulted cellar below. Above the stone entrance, on the outside, is the year 1667. It probably was the cellar of the previous parsonage.

Midway between the parsonage on the other side of the church path are two buildings that belong to the parsonage. Seed and grain were kept there. Later the crofter kept his seed there. It is thought they are from the 1700's. On the painting by Conrad Sovelius of the church and parsonage from ca 1870, the date can be seen.

The parsonage is mentioned in Catalog #15 as an historically valuable object in Vasa province; also in Catalog #58 as one of the national valuable objects.

From BYGGNADSKULTUR I KARLEBY by Kristina Ahmas and Tapio Väinölä, 1992

Translated by June Pelo

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