TIP OF THE DAY: Watch a short documentary by photo artist Sanna Kannisto about the creation of bird photos at the Hanko bird station.

Migrant hotel of the Finnish Steamship Company

Hanko Museum

Hanko was the most important Departure City for migrants at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. About 250,000 Finns went through the port of Hanko in search of new life. Accommodation capacity in Hanko has always been a problem, and in the early 20th century, there were particularly many immigrants in Hanko who stayed here for a night or two before continuing their journey through England to the United States. The Finnish Steamship Company, which was responsible for the migrants' journey from Finland, decided to build a migrant hotel on the Boulevard in 1902.


Emigration to the United States from Finland had started in the 1860s, but became especially lively in the 1890s when the Suomen Höyrylaivahtiö started a weekly service between Hanko and Hull. Hanko was Finland's only winter port for a long time, and there was a direct rail line here from Vaasa starting in 1882. Immigrants were a big topic in the social debate, in the beginning the decision-makers were worried when the young generation wanted to leave the country, but gradually it was noticed that this also had benefits, when new knowledge and assets were gained through returning immigrants. In the beginning, the trips were not organized, but when hundreds of migrants arrived at the port a week, according to Russian law, the trip had to be organized as well. Suomen Vöyrylaivahtiö took care of the practical matters.

Accommodation capacity has always been a problem in Hanko, and at the beginning of the 20th century there were especially many immigrants in Hanko who stayed here for a night or two before continuing their journey through England to the United States. For example, in 1902, 21,874 emigrants passed through Hanko, and the Suomen Höyrylaivahtiö, which was responsible for the emigrants' journey from Finland, decided to build an emigrant hotel on the Boulevard next to its office. There had already been a small 3-room guesthouse on the plot, but now the migrants had significantly more space and did not have to be accommodated all over the city. If we go back to the early days of the city, in the 1880s the plot was the party ground of the Hanko freeball club before it moved to Kylpyläpuisto. 

The building was completed in December 1902, but it was not put into use until around 1903. The drawings were prepared by Ludvig Mallander. Mallander had graduated in 1898 as an architect. The house had two floors, the lower floor was made of brick and the second floor was made of wood. There were 14 tasting rooms and a hall. Women and men had their own sections. The hotel was designed for about 300 people. The watchman also had his apartment there. The janitor met the immigrants at the train station, which was located at the end of the Boulevard next to the market. A night in a migrant hotel cost 50 pence, or 2 ? compared to today. Food had to be procured by yourself, and many had their own packed lunches with them. The janitor's lady sold coffee and buns. 

The rooms had four iron bunk beds and tables, chairs or short benches, meaning 12 people were accommodated in one room. One hall was the waiting hall where the ship was waiting for departure. In another hall, a medical examination was performed. If you did not pass the medical examination, you could not land in the United States. The most common disease was the infectious eye disease trachoma, which could lead to blindness but was curable if treated early. The hotel was thoroughly washed twice a week in addition to daily cleaning. 

Next to the Siirtolaishotell was both the Migrant Office and the Yhdysbanki branch. You got your travel ticket from the immigration office, and the information about the passengers was also written down there. From the bank, you got a bill of exchange, i.e. landing money, without which you couldn't get ashore. At the beginning of the 20th century, 500 migrants passed through Hanko a week, so they were a familiar sight in Hanko. The Finnish Mission Society visited the hotel every week to organize events for travelers.

In the 1920s, emigration almost completely stopped, and from 1928, the office of Hanko's tax board was housed in the building. The steamship joint stock company sold the furniture in 1933 to Oy Hankon Laivanahtausliike Ab and the entire property in 1948. In the winter, harbor workers from Kotka who worked at the port were staying here. The other half of the building served as a tourist home. In the 1970s, the number of winter workers decreased and from 1979 the city rented the building as an office space. A museum office, a culture office, a summer university, a civic college, a tourism office, a sports office, a youth office and a chamber of commerce functioned here. In 1992, the house was transferred to Castrum Oy and apartments were built in the house. 

1 review for “Suomen Höyrylaivayhtiön siirtolaishotelli

  1. Jack

    Today, Emigrantti Hotelli is a vibrant and comfortable housing stock company!

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Listen to the story of Hanko's immigrant hotel in Finnish.