In 1778 the merchant and business man John Hall (1735-1802) bought the Gunnebo estate south-east of Gothenburg to have a private summer house built there. The Gothenburg city architect Carl Wilhelm Carlberg was commissioned to design everything from the main building and its furnishings to the gardens and utility buildings.
The oldest documentation of the name Gunnebo is in a register of church properties in the late 14th century. It is mentioned in Latin as ‘Gunnebodum’ and ‘Gunnebodher’. ‘Gunne’ may come from the ancient Nordic Christian name Gun or Gunnar. ‘Bo’ can be translated as ‘settlement’.
When the architect Carlberg designed Gunnebo, he had just returned from a long journey abroad and was teeming with ideas inspired by the neo-classical currents outside Sweden. He was particularly influenced by the renaissance architect Andrea Palladio and his trendsetting villas outside Vicenza and Verona in Italy. Once completed, many of the renowned names of the day, both royal and revolutionary, artists and politicians, voiced their admiration for the scenic surroundings at Gunnebo and the pure classical architecture. Everything that is seen today at Gunnebo was designed by Carlberg and Gunnebo is one of Sweden’s best examples of neo-classical architecture.
The Hall family lived at Gunnebo during summers for just a few years. John Hall died in 1802 and the Bohemian son, John Hall Junior, inherited Gunnebo. He was a talented artist, but did not inherit his father’s head for business. His inability to manage the Hall trading house in conjunction with rapidly changing market trends led to the trading house going bankrupt in 1807. The last years of his life, John Hall Junior lived as a poor man and died in the streets of Stockholm in 1830. On the part of Gunnebo, years followed when the estate was neglected and fell into disrepair due to a lack of upkeep. The main building, the farm buildings and the gardens were in a miserable state when Gunnebo was auctioned out in 1832.
After several different owners throughout the 19th century, the estate came into the hands of Baron Carl Sparre and his wife Hilda. When Hilda passed away in 1948, Gunnebo was bought by the City of Mölndal. The House was renovated in 1949-1952, guided by the information supplied by inventories and architect Carlberg’s surviving original design plans. A total of 200 architectural drawings for the main building with furnishings as well as for the gardens and farm buildings is a unique treasure.