Una’s lovely house 

At the beginning of the last century, Unuhús in Garðastræti was the center of culture in Reykjavík. The house was built in 1896 by Guðmundur Jónsson, a pharmacist from Svartárdalur in Húnavatnssýsla, but he died young. The house is named after his wife, Una Gísladóttir (1855-1924) who was also from Húnavatnssýsla. Una rented out rooms and meals in the building at a better price than could be found elsewhere in the capital. The house became known as a center of culture, as the house was governed by the couple’s only child who came of age, one of the greatest sages of the time, Erlendur in Unuhús. At the beginning of the last century, regular guests in Unuhús were the main artists of the nation, such as the Nobel poet Halldór Laxness, the poets Stefán from Hvítidalur, Steinn Steinarr and Þórbergur Þórðarson, and the visual artists, Nína Tryggvadóttir and Louisa Matthíasdóttir. All artists who became so well known and respected that they are still alive, through their works, almost a whole century later.

Unuhús needed major repairs after Erlendur on Unuhús dies in 1947. He sells the house, as the story goes, to save Halldór Laxness from bankruptcy in 1941. He lives in Unuhús until his death in 1947.

Mynd 2: Unuhús at Garðastræti as it stands today


This fun old signs hangs by the entry

Reykjavík 20/10/2022 : RX1R II – 2.0/35mm Z

Photographs & text : Páll Stefánsson