The Formation of the Kihelkonna Village

The development of the biggest settlement centre in Western Saaremaa - Kihelkonna is closely connected with the nearby harbour at the Abaja Bay. In the 13th century a church was built here. As it is traditional in Estonia, the village of Kihelkonna was formed in the centre of the church parish.

The village began forming around the Kihelkonna pastorage and the heart of the Rootsiküla estate in the 1870-ies. On this area remained some of the farms of the Rootsiküla and Alutaga hamlets, the widow's ploughland of the pastorage and the schoolhouse, but also the farms in the neighbourhood of Kellamäe and the Pajumõisa tavern. The latter was located in the heart of the prospective village, on the crossroads connecting Western and Northern Saaremaa and the town of Kuressaare.

The merchant and shipowner Karl-August Thom had a significant part in the village development. He built four houses in Kihelkonna, the first of which was erected in about 1874. The forming centre was mainly of commercial character; the profit coming in from shipbuilding and seafaring which gave a push to building activities.

In the last quarter of the 19th century town-like buildings became dominating among the new houses. Beginning from 1890 the people in Kihelkonna could use the services of post and telegraph, in 1899 a chemist's shop started working. By the turn of the century Kihelkonna looked more like a small market town than a village.

In 1908 the higher elementary school of the Educational Society of Estonian Youth opened its doors. By that time the Kuressaare - Lümanda road had become the main street of the village. During the next decades buildings were mainly erected behind the church along the road heading for Tagamõisa.

REET TRUUVÄÄRT "Yearbook of Saaremaa Museum"