Cultural History Encyclopedia

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Published 07. July 1999

Last update 09. July 2021




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Gertrude Abbott

Gertrude Abbott (1866 - 1951) came from Philadelphia, USA. When she came to Norway and Balestrand, she fell in love with the place. She returned every summer until WWII. She died in her home in Philadelphia.

<i>Villa Balderslund</i> Which Gertrude Abbott built in 1906/7. The garden was very beautiful.

Villa Balderslund Which Gertrude Abbott built in 1906/7. The garden was very beautiful.

Owner: Ingrid Melkild Hustavnes.

Date: Kring 1985.

Photographer: Arne Melkild.

Miss Gertrude Abbott


Set habits

Miss Abbott came to Balestrand every summer. She usually arrived in Bergen by one of "Den Norske Amerikalinje's" ships just before 17 May, and came to Balestrand about the 20th. One of the locals was in charge of the garden and had by then made the garden look beautiful. Lars Sjøtun had this responsibility until he died in 1939. After that his family took care of the property.

Miss Abbott had many guests. One of them was the American lady Charlotte Matlock. Margit Sahlgaard Børresen was a teacher who visited Balestrand several times. Another visitor was Miss Paludan, who was a dentist and had a small summer practice in the village. Miss Abbott loved animals; she kept ducks and chickens which Lars Sjøtun looked after. For a while she even kept a cow in Lars' cowshed. Gertrude Abbott liked to go for rides in a cart pulled by a horse. Her first horse was called Bikki, the next one Sonja. She also had two dogs; Balto and Scout. From 15.30 until 17.30 she went on trips in her cart. In the beginning she had a cart in which she could sit, later she got a carriage. She always brought with her guests in the cart, and the trips often went to Esebotn or Flesje.

Caring for the village.

Miss Abbott took part in village life in many ways. She supported the building of the English Church, and was very active when the local hospital was built. She was observant and was very kind to those who had little and suffered hardship in Balestrand. In Balestrand Miss Abbott had two domestic servants; one was the cook and the other did the waiting. Anna Olsdtr. Sjøtun was Miss Abbott's faithful servant for nearly 40 years. She stayed with Miss Abbott both in Balestrand and in Philadelphia. Around 10 September Gertrude Abbott went to England. Anna then had to get the house ready for the winter and have her vacation. Not until October did she leave Norway in order to meet Miss Abbott in Philadelphia. Gertrude Abbott spoke fluent Norwegian with a western dialect. Except for the years during the war, 1914-1918, she went from Philadelphia to Balestrand every summer - even in 1939. She bequeathed her property to a holiday resort for the Bergen branch of the Red Cross.

Odd and Edel Martens

In 1953 Odd and Edel Martens bought the property. Odd Berle Martens (1899 - 1979) was a doctor of medicine from Bergen. His wife Edel Astri Wilhelmine Mejlander (1899 - 1979) was also a doctor and came from Stavanger. They fitted up a surgery on the 1st floor and had their practice there until 1975. Edel Martens was very interested in the work of the Red Cross and was a driving force in the establishment of Granlia. Odd Martens was a keen hunter and angler. He worked as a fisherman's doctor one season in Skrova, and he was with the Polar Institute when the radio station at Myggbukta on Greenland was shut down. Dr. Martens went with Helge Ingstad to Halifax in Nova Scotia and to Greenland, as a cook, when Ingstad excavated some Viking settlements there. When Odd and Edel Martend died, their children became title bearers of the property. In 1980 the property and much of the household contents was sold at an auction. Sigurd and Åse Ese then bought the property.

See geometric position on detailed map at Fylkesatlas or on a 3D-map at Google Maps by clicking on the 3D-button down to the right at the Google-map.


Urtegaard, Gunnar: Balestrand. Gards - og ættesoge. Bind II. Balestrand 1991.
Intervju med eldre folk i Balestrand.