SAMKOMUHÚSIÐ and RÝMIÐ

SAMKOMUHÚSIÐ

Samkomuhúsið, Hafnarstræti, is one of the most elegant buildings in the country, built at the turn of the 20th century. It is particularly beautiful in the town surroundings, at Barðsnef, and is one of Akureyri´s landmarks. The building is the scene of a remarkable chapter in Iceland´s theatre history, with a century long acting tradition.

The building is owned by the municipality of Akureyri. The operation of the Akureyri Theatre Company has been in that building from the beginning and the use of the building is part of the municipality of Akureyri’s support to the company. The building is the place of one of the theatre stages of ACS and the Borgarsalur.

The lodges Trúföst og Ísold had the building built in 1906. Constructions began that spring and Guðlaugur Guðmundsson, the town magistrate, initiated the building Desember 23, that year. The construction time of that big building was incredibly short, and every bit was built with hand tools. Including furniture, the total cost of the building was 28500 IKR. Head carpenters were Guðmundur Björnsson and Guðmundur Ólafsson, from Steinhóll in Skagafjarðarsýslu.

The municipality contributed by cosigning loans and renting the first floor of the building for a study hall, library and council meetings. The municipality later bought the building from the teetollers, or in 1917.

The first performance was premièred January 20, 1907, Adventure Walk (Ævintýri á gönguför), where the town magistrate himself, Guðlaugur Guðmundsson, was the director. Admission fees went to the new theatre. At that time an actual theatre company was not operated in Akureyri, but individuals and groups produced performances and performed for the audience and most of the time the profit from these events went to the building.

The Akureyri Theatre Company (the first) was founded a year later and since then theatre operations have been almost continuous in the building.

Most part of the building was a big hall, with a stage and side rooms. That hall was one of Akureyri´s main place of entertainment. The building was probably the biggest theatre in the country at the beginning of the 20th century. Then, like now, there were balconies on three sides, on both sides and in the north end of the hall and audience benches were also on the balconies on the east and west sides, where there is now only a walking area. Pillars supported the balconies and between them there were curved edges, also over the stage, everything painted in a decorative style.

In addition to the performances, shows and events the hall was also used as a meeting place and for elections, both for the municipality and for Alþingi (the congress).