The first building of Santa Claus Village, Roosevelt Cottage, turns 74 years old

The very first building in Santa Claus Village, the iconic Roosevelt Cottage (called also Roosevelt Cabin), turns a grand 74 years old on Tuesday, June 11, 2024! Roosevelt Cottage was built in honor of Eleanor Roosevelt‘s visit in the summer of 1950, and since then, it has been an essential part of Santa Claus Village, which over the decades has become one of Finland’s leading international tourist destinations.

Known for her humanitarian work, Eleanor Roosevelt was the widow of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who served as President of the USA from 1933 to 1945, and she was also the figurehead and “soul” of UNRRA, the predecessor of UNICEF.

Rovaniemi had suffered greatly from World War II, and reconstruction in Lapland progressed slowly, as the region burned to ashes had a shortage of almost everything after the war. In the spring of 1950, Eleanor Roosevelt expressed her desire to visit Finland too see country’s reconstruction efforts and efforts to improve children’s well-being and healthcare. The main destination of her trip was chosen to be Rovaniemi.

Roosevelt also expressed a request to visit the Arctic Circle during her trip to Lapland. Since there was nothing in the Arctic Circle area at the time, the local hosts from Rovaniemi decided to build a stylish cabin for their distinguished American guest. The elegant cabin, later named after its famous visitor, was miraculously erected in just two weeks. On a sunny Sunday morning, June 11th, 1950, the doors of the cabin were installed just in time when Mrs. Roosevelt’s airplane was landing in Rovaniemi.

Matti Vuoristo, soloist of local chorus Lapin lauluveikot salutes Mrs. Roosevelt in front of the new Arctic Circle cabin on Sunday 11th June 1950. Photo: Aimo A. Tuomi

Over the decades, Roosevelt Cottage has become an important symbol of friendship between Finland and the United States and a messenger of peace and care. Additionally, the cabin has naturally developed into a popular tourist attraction, which has seen numerous distinguished guests. Today, the cabin houses a shop selling authentic Lapland souvenirs, and next to cabin are information boards that tell the history of the cabin to those crossing the Arctic Circle.

The information boards installed in November 2023 next to Roosevelt’s Cabin tell about Mrs. Roosevelt’s visit and the cabin’s amazing history. Photo: Joulupukki TV

Next year, the cabin will celebrate its grand 75th anniversary: this special year is intended to be celebrated in various ways, says Antti Nikander, the “busy elf” and director of operations of Santa Claus Village Cooperative. The goal is also to have a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt erected in Santa Claus Village, states Nikander.

Read more about the incredible history of Roosevelt’s Cottage:

Roosevelt Cottage in December 2023. Right in the photo the new information boards about Cottage’s amazing history. The cottage is open every day and it’s hosting today a souvenir shops of products made in Rovaniemi. Photo by Santatelevision