Drammen´s richest merchant, Peter Nicolai Arbo, and his wife Anne Cathrine Collett bought Søndre Skogen Manor at auction in 1794. They gradually expanded the property into a modern country house estate. The main house and wings resemble European stone architecture.
When you walk through the main house, you almost get the feeling of being in the home of someone who has just gone away for a short while. Pretty curtains dress the windows, books lie around on tables, the beds look as if they´ve just been made, and the next meal is under preparation in the kitchen. For 150 years the Arbo family preserved this jewel of a house. Each generation left its mark in the form of new objects, so that the house as it stands today has the appearance of a living museum.
Denmark and Norway had close ties in the period around 1814. This is something you are made aware of when you look at the large collections of paintings and wallpapers that hang in the main house, which is now a listed building.
Today Gulskogen Manor comprises a main house and an outbuilding with a courtyard and park grounds. Estates like these were run as model farms in the old days, and new farming technology was quickly adopted. The present barn, from 1887, replaced a log barn, and now holds some of the tools that were used during this period. The side wing that houses the tool house and wagon shed is the original building, but is hidden under new panelling.
The garden was laid out in the style of an English landscaped park, and was officially opened with a huge garden party in 1804. The garden has always been the estate´s main attraction, and stands today as one of Norway’s best preserved gardens from that period. The labyrinth of lime trees there is unrivalled in Norway. The garden is divided into three terraces that are connected by stairs. The prominent terraces are separated from each other by straight-lined avenues and other seemingly random areas.
A grand tour of the gardens provides the opportunity to view the main house from different angles; one minute overgrown with greenery, then, from around the next corner, strictly classicistic. Close to the building, the garden is divided into beds. The rest of the grounds are left to the laws of nature. From the mid-19th century the garden evolved a more overgrown, romantic style, as was the trend at that time. It was during this period that the ponds in the north garden were added. Since 1972 the garden has been maintained in such a way as to accentuate more of its original character. But the gardens are also vulnerable to increased wear and tear, and must therefore be treated with care.