“A majestic restaurant with hotel amenities that oozes myths and history.”
To build his mansion in Sandefjord in 1933, Anders Jahre went to one of the country’s most important architects. Arnstein Arneberg has designed the 1.200-square-foot building, in a style that can be characterized as subdued functionalism impeccable classicism.
The house is situated on a hill, surrounded by a 60 acre park. One of the most special features of Midtåsen architecture is that the house is built on an axis towards the Sandefjordsfjord. As you enter the front door and go straight through the house and out the patio door, you look down a magnificent staircase with fountains and flowers. This staircase is in line with the fjord. Your gaze goes all the way out to the open sea. Sculptures, old oak trees and beautiful plants adorn the manicured garden, which is a great place for summer events.
The house itself is refurbished and kept exactly as it was when Anders Jahre and his wife, Bess, lived there. Only the kitchen has been rebuilt to the highest modern standard. The rooms themselves are not that big, Jahre wanted a homely house. But the whole house oozes quality and detail.
The stained glass windows tell personal stories, the wallpapers are specially designed, the art on the walls is collected by Jahre himself and the old, beautiful porcelain in the dining room is still used today. The suites in the house are decorated in different colors and have very personal touches. Here, the world’s richest man got his own Onassis suite, with a decor that could have been taken from a trendy interior magazine: exciting details, creative solutions and rich color combinations. Arneberg must really have had a great time up here at the top of Sandefjord.
But the most impressive room at Midtåsen is Arnebergstuen. This is where celebratory dinners were held under the chandeliers. Large, beautiful tapestries from the early 18th century adorn the walls – they are so old that they cannot be taken down and cleaned. And Anders Jahre’s eyes follow us through the rooms – he has of course had several imposing paintings made of himself.
One of them hangs in the hall: “To Bess on our 10th wedding anniversary”. Jahre’s office is also kept exactly as it was in his days of prosperity. And in the basement he has built a colorful bodega that still smells of cigar and old port wine. Down there stands his big vault, empty.
Aristotle Onassis, the Shah of Persia, Jussi Bjørling, kings, queens, princes and princesses of the royal houses of Europe… It isn’t exactly little people who drank red wine with the shipowner Anders Jahre at Midtåsen. For him, Bordeaux was the only wine, the only one he had some knowledge about.
In the post-war years, Jahre was the world’s leading whaling shipowner and one of the country’s most important entrepreneurs. He enjoyed an almost royal status far beyond the borders of Sandefjord and Norway, and he entertained both nobility, cultural elite and business relations under the chandeliers at Midtåsen.
He built the mansion on the top of Sandefjord in 1933, and lived there until he died in 1982. His second wife, Bess Jahre, lived on Midtåsen until she died in 2006. For the people of Sandefjord, there has always been a secret and mysterious little something about the place where the city’s son and benefactor kept his fashionable companies and ruled his business empire.
Anders Jahre kept a low profile and never gave interviews to the press. He offered great gifts to the city, the district and the country. He has given some of his great fortune, and he has gained a reputation as a benefactor by virtue of Anders Jahre foundations and funds. Meanwhile, the search for his allegedly hidden wealth continues.
Now the doors to Midtåsen have opened, after the Sandefjord Municipality, the Vestfold County Municipality and the Anders Jahre’s Humanitarian Foundation bought the property.
The wonderful property, house and interior are refurbished and kept intact from Jahr’s heyday. You feel that you are in a home, a home where History as well stories hide in the walls. Perhaps it is precisely this personal atmosphere that makes a visit to Midtåsen so very special.
Welcome to Sandefjord’s finest restaurant, Midtåsen!