The history of Vaasa can be traced back to the early 14th century when seafarers from Norrland landed on a forested island at the present site of Old Vaasa. In the 1370's Korsholma Castle was already being built there. In these parts, the land is continuously rising from the sea at a rate of one metre every century. At the time Korsholma Castle was built, the area between Old Vaasa and the present town was under the sea which reached far inland. Even as late as hundred years ago ships sailed to Vaasa along the channel that now, almost filled in, meanders across fields.
The first know lord of the Korsholma Castle was Bo Jonsson Grip. His fiefs consisted of the whole of Northern Finland and a part of Northern Sweden.
In 1606, Charles IX founded the town of Vaasa around the oldest harbour and trading point in Ostrobothnia. The town was named after the Royal House of Wasa, and the coat of arms of the same House was to be its symbol. In the 17th century, trading was flourishing and many of the bourgeois of Vaasa managed to amass considerable fortunes.
During the Great Hate of 1714 the town was destroyed and the trading vessels of the bourgeois were burnt. The years of crop failure completed the destruction. Most of the inhabitants fled to Sweden.
In 1765, Vaasa received its town charter, and after that seafaring began to flourish again. Exported goods, such as tar, pitch, grain, butter, hides and timber gave rise of the prosperity of Vaasa. In the mid 19th century, C.G. Wolff built a fleet of sailing vessels, the largest private fleet in the North at that time.
In 1776, the Court of Appeal was built in Vaasa by Gustavus III, this was the second Court of Appeal in Finlad. The building, which was designed by superintendent C.F.Adelcrantz was completed in 1786. About that time in 1776, the town received a printing office, and in the 1840's the first high-speed print in the entire country. After the great fire in the town, when almost everything was burnt to the ground, the building of the Court of Appeal began to serve as the church for Mustasaari congregation. The bell-tower, designed by C.A.Setterberg, was built in the 180's.
Korsholm's Church (former Court of Appeal)
With the establishment of the Court of Appeal the town gained importance, and the social life brightened up. In 1794, the first library in the whole of Finland was set up in Vaasa. There were theatre performances and concerts. Vaasa had a public bath, a social hall, and various public houses. A provincial hospital was founded as early as 1768, and in 1844 it was expanded to contain 120 beds.
At Midsummer in 1808 the town was destroyed again. The country was at war with the Russians who had taken over the province. The Swedish reinforcement were defeted, 400 men were killed in the battle. The enemy troops plundered the town for three days and many inhabitants were killed. In the early 19th century the houses in the small town of Vaasa did not differ much from those of the peasants' in the countryside. There were a few two storeyed buildings but only on Kauppiaankatu. During the dark seasons the rough streets got light from tallow candles in lanterns which stood at street-corners.
In 1793 there were 2178 inhabitants in Vaasa, in the year of the fire, 1852, the number was 3200.
One hot morning in August 1852, fire broke out in Vaasa.
A careless visitor to the market place had fallen asleep in the shed of the Alderman Aurén, dropped his pipe in the chaft and started the fire. The wells were empty, the inhabitants mostly out working. Many houses had thatched or birch bark roofs with spars and stones on them. There were only narrow alleys between the houses. By the night there were only smouldering ruins left. Only a few buildings remained, among them the Court of Appeal. Also the Wasastjerna stone walls remained.
The new town of Vaasa was built on the coast, 6 kilometers from the old town and the transfer of the town charter took place in 1862.