The Jūrmala City Council auctioned off the summer house on 4 Salacas Street, known as Pēperkoku Cottage, that used to belong to Latvian poetry phenoms Rainis and Aspazija for a starting price of almost 39,000 euros, according to a Latvian Radio broadcast on February 26.
“We really hoped that the municipality would come around and accept the offer to both rent out and renovate it. Before the auction I warned the auction committee that the auction conditions don’t include that this is a state-protected cultural monument,” said opposition deputy Uldis Kronblūms.
The Jūrmala Protection Society and several prominent members of society opposed the auction and wanted to protect it as a municipal property with cultural heritage significance. The State Inspection for Heritage Protection decided to put the property forward for inclusion in the register of state-protected cultural monuments so it can’t be torn down. Currently the only proof that Rainis spent four summers there is a plaque above the door.
There were two bidders and the winner bought the property for almost 50,000 euros. “To dispute, we’re currently not challenging anything, we’re going to take care that the monument status is observed,” said Kronblūms of the house that’s currently in a state of disrepair after years of neglect by the municipality.
“The auction winner won’t be able to carry out, well, probably the reconstruction as a private house that they had hoped for,” continued the deputy.
As previously reported , Rainis and Aspazijas works helped lay important foundations for Latvian self-confidence in a national autonomous culture, as well as the ideals of a united Europe, social equality and women’s liberation, sweeping across the continent in popularity at the time.
Given the seminal social and political roles they held in the emergence of the Latvian nation, UNESCO included their 150th birthday anniversaries in its yearly calendar of events. Even the more than a thousand letters they sent to each other over the years have become part of the Latvian national register of UNESCO’s Memory of the World program.