The attic and roof of the historical building Höfdi in Reykjavík, built in 1909, caught fire on Friday afternoon. Reykjavík City employees from a nearby office complex, police officers and van drivers helped to save valuable items from the house while firefighters extinguished the fire.
Höfdi. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
Höfdi has accommodated Winston Churchill, and Marlene Dietrich is believed to have performed there. But the house is most famous for being the location of the 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev summit, which led to the end of the Cold War, and among items on display there is a guest book from the summit, Fréttabladid reports.
Works of art by many of the most famous Icelandic painters adorn the walls of Höfdi and some of the people who helped save them from the fire were seen embracing and crying afterwards. The fire was extinguished in approximately an hour and no artwork was damaged.
However, the house itself suffered some damage and must be repaired. It is unclear what caused the fire but it is suspected to have started from electricity, even though the house’s electricity system was reviewed last year.
Earlier in the day there was an open house in Höfdi to remember that 100 years had passed since people first moved into it, but it was vacant at the time of the fire.
Höfdi went through a period of deterioration and was inhabited by homeless people when the City of Reykjavík decided that it should be preserved and serve as the city’s reception house.
Click here to read about Gorbachev revisiting Höfdi in 2006 on the summit’s 20th anniversary.