In recent years, Höfði House in the district of Laugardalur has become one of the significant landmarks in Reykjavík city, the capital of Iceland. And not without reason. It is famous for its history in Iceland and also internationally as a symbol referring to the end of the cold war after Ronald Reagan, president of the United States, and Mikhail Gorbachev, president of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, had their famous meeting in the house in 1986. It is a meeting that many views as the end of the cold war and the fall of the Soviet Union but of course, that interpretation have come into question in recent years.
Connected to the poet Mr. Einar Benediktsson
In the minds of Icelanders, though, it is often linked to the poet and entrepreneur Einar Benediktsson (1864 -1940), although he only lived in the house for a few years. Mr. Benediktsson moved into the house with his family in 1914 and named the house, Höfði. He was a grand-scale entrepreneur who dreamed of things larger than life and, during his lifetime, filled his bag of experience with success stories, failures, and bankruptcy. But he was a person that Icelanders loved and admired. Einar was probably one of the first businesspeople in Iceland to find international funding for many of his failed enterprises. And most of the time lived like a King both in Iceland and abroad. But it was first and foremost the poet.
The statue of Mr. Benediktsson
Less than three decades after Mr. Benediktsson passed away in 1964, a statue of him was placed in a new small park by Klambratún in the district of Hlíðar. The statue was the work of Ásmundur Sveinsson, one of our most beloved sculptors. In 2015, the statue was moved to the lot by Höfði House and stood by the house near the ocean, where many Icelanders feel he belongs. The sculpture expresses a character that is larger than life and deserves a vast space and should be placed near a house that is connected to his life and name.
A bit of a history
The house was built in 1909 for the French Consul Jean Paul Brillouin, who the French government appointed at that time to look after the interest of French seamen fishing in Iceland. It was designed and built in Norway and assembled in Reykjavík. Rumor has it that the reason was that Brillouin's wife was Norwegian. This was at the same time all the newly renovated houses, the French hospital, and other houses were built in Fáskrúðsfjörður in the Eastern Region. At that point, the extravagant house was far from the main center and other places in the small town of Reykjavík. The house was also the home of a physician, Mr. Matthías Einarsson, father of one of the first female artists in Iceland with international recognition, Louisa Matthíasdóttir. During the second world war, it was the residence of the British consulate visited by Winston Churchill. After occupying the house for a few years, the consul sold it because of a ghost, "the woman in white," continually disturbing the people living there. The city of Reykjavík purchased the house in 1958. Since 1967 after a significant renovation, it has been the official reception for the city of Reykjavík.