1900 is a year of great political ferment in Chania! The town
serves as the capital of the Semi-independent State of Crete and
the so-called «Cretan Matter» is by now international. Political
discussions are hot while military men, ambassadors and diplomats
of all kinds of nationalities are flooding the streets, mixed with
the locals, Cretans, Turkish-Cretans, Turks and many others.
It is a peak point in the history of Chania and this can but include
cultural life. There is plethora of artistic activity, evident,
to a large extent, of the newly arrived western european influences.
Local architecture carries the signs of Neoclassicism and many
beautiful new buildings make their appearance in town. «Vilelmine»
is one of them.
In 1898 the Fournarakis family started building their
house at Betolo street, in the middle of the old town, with the
side of the building overlooking the court-yard of Trimartiri,
the Metropolitan church of Chania. The construction was
completed a few years later and the family moved into their
This stone-made building is characteristic of the architecture
of the time. With the exception of some damage due to WWII bombarding,
which was fully repaired, it has been preserved until today and
has been proclaimed national heritage. The remarkable renovation
that took place maintained all the authentic architectural elements
of the construction. Thus it looks almost exactly like it did
when Vilelmine Fournarakis was a just a little girl!
Vilelmine grew up to be a beautiful young woman who lived comfortably,
like most women of her age and social background. She was given
the appropriate education, she had her circle of friends and she
was exploring and enjoying life. One can easily picture what it
might have been like back then, by browsing through the little
album of questions and answers Vilelmine kept between 1926 and
1928. It was a popular romantic game for young people at the time
to have a «Lefkoma» (album) of questions such as «what is love?»,
«which name do you like?» or «what is beauty?» and to have their
friends write answers. Vilelmine's «Lefkoma» has been preserved
to this day and it is exhibited to complete the vibe of a past
time one gets coming through the door of her home!