Like the origin stories of many other towns, the foundation of Elva is also connected to the emergence of railway lines. The Tartu-Valga railway line started making stops in Elva in 1888. The Elva of the day was, of course, not reminiscent of the current lovely summer resort. There were only a post station, a tavern and some odd farms around the railway station.
It did not take long for the first summer houses to be built in the pine forest between Lake Arbi and Lake Verevi. The first hotel named Tsentraal was opened in 1901. The seed for a full-fledged resort had been planted!
Thanks to its naturally beautiful location and a number of water bodies, Elva slowly began to become more popular as a vacation spot. Those, who could not afford vacationing there, found employment as servants of the vacationers. And the joys of Elva were enjoyed after hours of course.
The complex of summer houses by Lake Verevi was also expanded by the buildings constructed for the professors of the University of Tartu. The area was nicknamed the “District of Professors”. Like other resort towns in Estonia, Elva was also an esteemed vacation spot among the Russian aristocrats.
In 1929, it was clear that Elva’s popularity was on the rise, and to the great pleasure of the vacationers, a beach and beach house were constructed by Lake Verevi. This also included outdoor pools and a 10-metre diving tower!
All of this of course led to naming Elva an official resort town. Elva’s popularity was international – in 1937, vacationers from twelve different countries were registered.
Elva was made unique and different by the fact that this was the only inland resort in South Estonia.