1868 a key-novel was published which caused a tremendous commotion. The title was “Now and then or the mysteries of a small town”. And the town was Orebro.
The first chapter is called “Fallan” (the Trap). And is a story about the Fenix-house. The chapter begins “A beautiful, clear and sunny morning in the late summer of 18…, a young man come out of the most distinguished cellars, the so called The Trap.
What was behind the doubtful name, was not quite clear, but one of the explanations was that when you successfully reached the harbour there, it was exceedingly difficult to get away from there.
The place had four rooms. In the “Cellarhall” the guests were served glass by glass, but in the inner rooms, mostly whole or half bottles shone on the tables.
In the very inner holy, or the cubby-hole, Casino was played, which later had to give way to the more intelligence trying card playing “Dundrapart”.
The restaurant-keeper Strom, who also was an alderman, was presented as a grey-haired and magnificent old man, who went there and back in the rooms with grave steps. The restaurant-keeper was not only very rich, he had furthermore a very good reputation in the town. His wife, who also had an elegant appearance, was called “the Queen”.
Strom´s business and income did not confine to what was over the surface, even under the ground in the cellar The Pit a considerable quantum of the Swedish National Beverage was served, of course with an enormous profit.
The Trap was in real life Ekstrom´s Cellar and later the Town Cellar. Strom in the book was in real life Ekstrom, with the Christian name Johan Peter. Ekstrom was beside restaurant-keeper even alderman and also for a while member of Parliament. In 1847 he had built the house – the sole purpose of trade with wine and spirits and the restaurant. In the building they also produced liquor – within the pale of the law.
Over the entrance to the open yard you can see the sign with the words “J P Ekstrom & Co,
Vin och spirituosa”.
Remarkably enough, the building was saved in the big fire 1854 - when more than 1200 persons lost their homes – despite the fire started just in the neighborhood.
Connected with the fire, Mrs Ekstrom , “the Queen”, made a remarkable contribution which went down in history. An inhabitant with a good memory wrote: “From time to time you could see a magnificent lady, accompanied by some maids, proceed among the firemen, who were exhausted and in a sweat. It was the wife of the restaurant-keeper and alderman Ekstrom. She had got the name “The Queen” because of her grand figure. From her own hands and as far as the well-stocked supplies of the house was sufficient, she bid on this occation refreshments. …………That the alderman´s wife made such a socialable gesture
seemed if possible more encouraging, then the material treat with food and drinks, restored the overstrained forces.
The original house had got a wing to the north 1855, directly after the fire and one against Fargargrand in 1863.