A sweet berry in the bunch of Selija manors - that's how we called Vecmēmele Manor this spring. And it really is sweet, because in the campaign "Visit Latvian Castles and Manors 2023" organised by the Latvian Association of Castles and Manors, Vecmēmele Manor won the Candidate Award, which we are very proud of!
Vecmēmele Manor is located in Selija, Aizkraukle municipality, Mazzalves parish. Its manor house was built in the first half of the 19th century. The manor house took its present form in the 1880s, when Eugen von Haren rebuilt the existing old manor house and adapted it to his family's needs. Under the guidance of a professional architect, the old-fashioned building was transformed into a contemporary nobleman's family home.
The manor house is one of the oldest in the area and was first mentioned in documents as early as 1516. The owners of the manor have changed frequently over the years - the Stichhorsts, the Drachenfels, the Manteifels-Sceges, the Ropes, the Pfeiliceri-Franks and the Poreš. In 1858, the manor was purchased by the Haren family, which has owned it for three generations. The marriage of Eugen Friedrich Karl Theodor Baron Freischung von Haren and Sophie Louise Anna Amalia Clementine Baroness von Hahn resulted in the birth of all 9 of their children at Vecmemele Manor. The Haren family has preserved records of their harmonious life and everyday life at Vecmemele Manor, as well as the twists and turns of fate and the harsh years of the war.
After nationalisation in 1920, the manor house had several uses - it housed the Mēmele sixth-form school, a hospital, the office of the collective farm "Dzimtene", a cinema, a post office, a telephone exchange, accommodation for bus drivers, and communal apartments. After the restoration of independence, the manor became the property of creative personalities and was often referred to as the actors' manor, until it became uninhabited in the 2010s and was subjected to the merciless ravages of time.
Through the ages, the manor house has retained an authentic and unique appearance which, although endangered, still bears strong evidence of the 19th century building, carpentry and interior design traditions, as the Vecmēmele manor house is a small but significant example of Empire and historic manor architecture, with ornate interior decoration and a high degree of authenticity. In the opinion of the experts, it is rare to find such a wide range of historical details in a historic building in Latvia. The manor house, servants' house, manager's house, cellar and granary, as well as the ruins of the stables and distillery walls have been preserved.
Currently, Vecmēmele Manor is being restored and turned into a border tourism attraction by two enterprising residents of Riga - Inga Dundure and Sandris Punculis, who will be more than happy to introduce tourists to the history of the manor and reveal a mysterious story. The owners will be grateful if you donate any photos related to the history of Vecmēmele Manor House, send a postcard like in the old days or tell an interesting story about the manor that you have never heard before.
Thanks to the new owners of the manor, the association "Restore the Manor" they founded and the co-financing of the National Culture and Heritage Board, the first stages of the project "Urgent conservation and restoration works of the manor house of Vecmēmele Manor" have been completed - technical and architectural survey of the building, installation of a temporary roof and rain gutters, foundation repairs and installation of drainage.