House of the Blackheads, originally called the New House, was built in 1334. It has been reconstructed on numerous occasions – from 1522, when the entrance was supplemented with doorstones, up to late 19th century, when the house was decorated with lion figures above its entrance and a rendition of St George appeared in the adjacent building.The statue of Roland – a symbol of free medieval cities of the Hanseatic League – was erected in the Town Square in 1896. Now it is kept in St Peter’s Church while the Town Square retained a copy of the sculpture made in 2000.
The house was built as a meeting and celebration venue for different social organisations in Riga. In the 17th century its sole occupants were the cheerful and industrious, mainly German merchants – the Blackheads’ Society. One of its numerous patrons was St Maurice, a Roman commander who died a martyr’s death through decapitation. A Moor’s head thus became a sign of recognition and a symbol of the Blackheads, also depicted in their coat of arms.
The house which, on a par with the City Hall, used to be called the grandest adornment of Riga turned into rubble during World War II. However, the House of Blackheads was never fogotten – a number of renovation projects were devised after the war. In 1991 an exhibition was arranged in St Peter’s Church depicting the history of the house and the society of Blackheads. In 1992 archaeological excavations were commenced on the location of the Blackheads’ House. After a comprehensive publication on the Blakcheads in 1995 the construction work began. Riga regained its “grandest adornment” in 1999, when the reconstruction was completed and the portal engraving fulfilled: