- Skeppsholmen Church was inaugurated in 1842
- It is one of Stockholm’s most remarkable buildings from the era
- Today, it is used as a concert hall called Eric Ericson Hall
Skeppsholmen Church (Skeppsholmskyrka), or as it may be called today, Eric Ericson Hall (Eric Ericsonhallen), is one of the notable buildings on the city landscape of Stockholm that many of you may know from pictures and movies. However, its characteristic shape might never have existed had a few interesting things not happened. In this post, I, therefore, not only tell you what you can see at Skeppsholmen Church today but also how the building turned out the way it did.
Our story starts with a church built in the first half of the seventeenth century on an island called Kyrkholmen. You would waste your time trying to find this island on the map today as it has since become a part of the Blasieholmen peninsula.
As so many others during the history, the church burned down in 1822 and needed to be replaced by a new one. Architect Fredrik Blom, known also for his work on the Rosendal Palace (Rosendals slott), was assigned the task to design the new church and come up with a proposal for its location.
However, the architect was working in Norway at the time and the highest representative of the Navy’s Stockholm station, Carl Fredrik Coyet, was impatient. Therefore, the first design proposal for the church was created by another architect during Blom’s absence in Sweden.
Eventually, it did not take him long to return to his homeland and he had managed to create a pair of designs for the Skeppsholmen Church and come up with an approximate location before the authorities made a decision.
Cost estimates were calculated for all proposals and submitted for evaluation to the administration. Coyet himself preferred the cheapest proposal, which at this point was one of the Blom’s works. On October 28, 1823, the administration finally decided, and perhaps surprisingly, chose to move forward with the most expensive of the submitted proposals, hence, the other one created by Fredrik Blom.
The reasoning behind this choice, as presented by the administration board, was that this design was architectonically most valuable and despite being the most expensive, it was worth investing in a temple worth of a modern capital.
The foundation stone of the new church was laid in 1825 but the construction was neither fast nor smooth. During the nearly two decades of the ongoing works, the process was halted several times for financial reasons, as well as problems with the labour force.
Moreover, all changes to the original architectural plans had to be accepted by the administration, some even by King Charles XIV John (Karl XIV Johan) himself. One such thing, that resulted in a much more valuable building from the architectural viewpoint than the one presented in the original proposal, was the cupola.
Today, the green cupola creating a nice contrast with the light façade of the church is one of its most characteristic features visible from various parts of the city, including the prominent promenade on Strandvägen and bays surrounding the islands forming the historical city centre.
The columns present at the church’s entrance and also holding the lantern with another, smaller cupola topped with a gilded cross were another topic for a long discussion between the architect and the authorities. Initially, these were meant to be made of wood, then of bricks, and eventually, Blom decided he would prefer to use cast iron.
The architect argued that the higher initial costs would be balanced by the longer lifespan of the material. He pointed out as well, that such columns were becoming increasingly popular in the early 1800s and that they would enhance the patriotic feel of the building by being made of Swedish iron. However, the administration was not sympathetic to Blom’s arguments and only accepted stone, bricks, and plaster as additional materials to the originally proposed wood.
The Skeppsholmen Church in its full glory was inaugurated on July 24, 1842, although the king, who had earlier issued a permit for the building to use his name, visited the new construction a few days sooner. Charles John was so happy with what he saw that he decided to make a donation to the church in the form of silver, which was delivered the following year.
From the public perspective, the new church was appreciated for its monumental and, at the same time, decent style. Achieving this, cost the architect a tonne of efforts, though, and the authorities a full load of money. While the accepted proposal, which was already the most expensive, was estimated to cost around 54,000 riksdaler, the final costs were almost a double.
Later reconstructions of the Skeppsholmen Church were fortunately very sensitive, thanks to which we can still enjoy the almost original design to this day. It is not that architects have not come up with some pretty wild ideas but the authorities have always made rational decisions when it came to potential changes.
Today, one of the Stockholm’s most remarkable structures from the first half of the 19th century does not serve as a church anymore. The days of the church on the Skeppsholmen island came to an end in 2002 and the building has since been repurposed to serve as a concert hall known as the Eric Ericson Hall.
The only thing that is left now, is for you to visit this beautiful historical place for yourself. If you liked this story, consider sharing it with your dear ones and make sure to sign up for our newsletter to never miss new content from Trevl.
Wollin, Nils G., 1971. Skeppsholmen under 300 år.
Haglund, Stig, 1979. Kyrkor i Stockholm.