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Kivisilla Fond

Following the restoration of Estonian independence in 1991, there was great optimism in Estonia. The wish was granted to be able to guide the future of Estonia, yet there was also a great need to recover historical links which were severed during the Soviet period.

It was of great national significance that the King of Sweden attended the opening of a replica of the statue of King Gustav II Adolf (1594-1632) who was a driving force behind the creation of the University of Tartu, which would later play a key role in Estonian national awakening. Immediately following the official unveiling, Ants Veetõusme, then Lord Mayor of Tartu established Tartu Kivisild Foundation, together with Roman Mugur who was also later to become Lord Mayor of Tartu. Locally there was very little money available for the project, but the Kivisild Fund attracted the support of Patrick von Glasenapp, a Baltic-German who provided seed capital for the fund. Unfortunatly, Glasenapp died a few moths later.

After, Herbert Masing then Nils Hollberg became chairman of the fond. Ants Veetõusme, one of the key founding members is still active in 2007 pushing for rebuilding of the Kivisild.

While many esteemed and influential people have been involved in the Tartu Kivisild Foundation, they also admit that the optimism of early years has not been converted in matching results. The idea lost momentum and public support in the mid 1990’s. A commemorative album was published in 1997 including many image reproductions, with texts in Estonian and German, plus a summary in English.

The original target was for a replica Kivisild to be ready for 2005 – this year also later coincided with the international Hanseatic Days festival in Tartu. The budget was pegged at 50 million Estonian kroons, with the Kivisild Fund aiming to raise 20% of that – the remainder to be funded by the city and national government. By 2004, Arvi Vainomäe (an active member of the Kivisild Fund in Australia) said that the Fund had raised up to 500,000 Estonian kroons, but added that the bridge could never be built until the Tartu City Government decided to actively support the project.

A bronze model of the Kivisild was erected in 2004 at the site of the original bridge, funded by Tartu Kivisild Foundation. Tartu City Government paid 17,000 kroons for an information board nearby, while also having spent 3 times that amount in the same year on repairs to the concrete Kaarsild which occupies the position of the original Kivisild.

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