Storegade 12, House of Christian Ellei

In the middle of Storegade, stands this medium-sized ducal house dating from 1770. The house is an important part of the high street leading up to the Palace. Although the wall dormer is decorated with plaster strips called ‘lesenes’ around the windows, the house is by no means ostentatious and lives a quiet and modest life in the town.

On the plot is also a small half-timbered house with a tiled roof. It is a so-called “inner house” (crofter’s cottage), which was a rental house with the dwelling in one end and the stable in the other. It was probably built in the middle of the 17th century and is one of the oldest houses in the town – perhaps the oldest! When the duke purchased the village of Stavnsbøl and demolished the houses in order to build the town, some buildings behind the high street were allowed to stand. This house is a rare example of one of those back houses.

The tenants were often people without families. They could be day labourers, craftsmen or fishermen. They paid neither tax nor rent, but so-called “intercede money” or “verbittelsgeld”. It was a modest amount, which obliged the landlord to intercede for the tenant in court (be his protector) and recognize the tenant as a legal occupant and not a wanderer.

In the late 18th century, the main house was inhabited by Christian Ellei, who was probably employed by the duke, but his position is not known. Given the size and location of the house, he must have had some status in the town. He may have been related to the Elley family who later moved into the house, although the spelling is different.

In 1855, the German saddler August Heinrich Ludwig Wolff moved into the house. He probably used the back house as a workshop for his business. He lived in the house until his death in 1909. In 1910, the heirs sold the house to Sophie Hansen, who was the daughter of the former bishop of Als and Ærø, Jørgen Hansen. She was the widow of the local doctor Hermann Heinrich Tadey, whom she had met during the war in 1864.

In 1926, postman Mads Elley and his wife Anne bought the house and lived there with his older sister and her adult son Hans Ernst. The latter started a small electrical store in the western end of the house. He also ran a haulage business and had a taxi that ran on a gas generator during the German occupation. It often had to be pushed in order to start, and the children of the town were happy to help.

Anne survived her husband by 38 years and continued living in the house until her death in 1987, after which the house was taken over by her son, psychiatric nursing assistant Svend Aage Elley (1928-2016). After Svend Aage’s death, the heirs put the house up for sale, but it was not easy to sell. Perhaps because of the dilapidated state of the back house, which is listed for preservation by the municipality and therefore must not be demolished.

Today, the house is used as a rental house, and the new owner has begun renovating the back house.