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Skolegata 1, Vardø
The old primary school in Vardø is a monumental building. In terms of both dimension and form, it is atypical of structures found in the northernmost counties of Norway. The building is situated on an incline above Østervågen and has always had a dominating position in the townscape. Today the school is owned by the Finnmark County Municipality and houses the Vardø library. The school was declared a listed building in 1990, and around 1980 the site was regulated to a particular area of preservation.

The initiative to build this architectural jewel was undertaken by the executive committee of Vardø in 1884. At this time they wrote to the Board of the Diocese of Tromsø (at that time the school system was a part of the church) and requested assistance for design plans that could be used as a "common school building". It is said that the Board of the Diocese was not of any help and as a result "no common school with the stated dimensions" so far has been built in the Tromsø Diocese. In the end the most renowned architect from the capital, Herman Major Backer (1856-1932), was commissioned. Backing the principle funding for this project was the Vardø Association, and it was led on-site by the architect Carl Jacobsen. The construction workers were recruited among the town citizens. Eventually after a construction period of one-and-a-half years, the school was opened in March of 1888.

The old primary school in Vardø was built during a period when the town of Vardø was booming. At the same time other magnificent public buildings were erected in town, but these were destroyed during World War II.

Year of construction



Herman Major Backer


Vardø Municipality

Building Type


Construction System / Materials

Cogging joint method


cog jouint construction
Swiss style
half-hipped roof


Lorentzen, Kristian T.: Gatenavn i Vardø, Vardø 1987.

Petterson, Arvid: Hus i Finnmark, Vadsø 2005.

Skotnes, Roger: Glimt fra Vardø skolehistorie, Varanger Årbok 1999.


Vardø gamle barneskole
Vardø gamle barneskole
Vardø gamle barneskole
Vardø gamle barneskole
Vardø gamle barneskole