The story of the Red House

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Rauða Húsið has been here since 2005, but the building is nearly 100 years old.

Mrs. Gudmunda Nielsen built the oldest part of this house, the restaurant on the first floor, in 1919, for her retail shop (picture above). Mrs. Nielsen was a person of many talents: an organ player, choir conductor, music teacher and song writer, as well as being very active in the Woman’s Association of Eyrarbakki. She studied business management in Copenhagen before opening her retail shop here, which was considered the trendiest shop in the region. Eyrarbakki was the first port of call for foreign influences in music, literature and art, and was the largest trading centre in the country for a very long time. Gudmunda Nielsen lived in The House (Húsið).

In 1957, a second floor was added to the building and it became home to Plastiðjan and later Álpan. In 2004, after being abandoned for a few years, it was renovated and lovingly restored and the restaurant opened its doors there at the new location on 14 May 2005 (though at the time the house was white!).

In fact, the history of the Red House restaurant stretches back longer than this. It originally opened in 1990 at a location down the road in the old building called Gunnarshús and was there until moving to the current location.

The Story of the Red House

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When Rauða Húsið first opened, it was in another red house, the old schoolhouse. On 14. May 2005, it moved to its current home at Búðarstígur 4, the house also known as ‘Mikligarður’.

A woman named Guðmunda Nielsen built the first part of the house, which now houses the main dining room and the cozy cellar, in 1919. She was a Renaissance woman: she was a businesswoman, organist, choir director, music teacher, composer, and active in many societies, including the Eyrarbakki Women’s Society. She studied business in Copenhagen before opening her shop, Guðmundubúð, one of the most fashionable shops in Iceland at its time.

Guðmunda lived in The House next-door, which is now home to the Árnessýsla Folk Museum and open to the public during the summertime. The House was built in 1765 as a home for the Danish merchant family living in Eyrarbakki. It was at its time the center of culture on the south coast.

In 1955, the top floor was added. At that time, it was home to Plastiðjan plastic factory, which made insulation and heating pipes. In 1960, they built the three-story addition in the back, which today has the restaurant’s North Hall, the kitchen, and storage.


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