It is believed that the first inn was erected just opposite the church around 1720. It is said that it was the pastor’s wife who took the initiative to build the inn because she was tired of having to entertain in the vicarage after the Sunday service.
The recent history of the inn starts around 1822, where the farmer at Stensbjerggård bought his property as a freehold from the cathedral in Roskilde and parceled out four building plots. It was the merchant Hans Pedersen from Gladsaxe, who bought one of the four building plots where he built a house and made it an inn.
Hans Pedersen was born in 1798 and was the son of farmer Peter Nielsen, Næsby 6. He was married to Kirsten Espensdatter of Herløv who was born in 1802.
Ann Marie and Badist
Their only daughter, called Dorthe Marie born in 1823, was married to the shoemaker Barnuka, and her sister-in-law Marie was the cousin of ReverendJørgen Gottfred Petersen Orø 1834 – 1873.
Dorthe Marie was called the “middle-madam” because she was the daughter of the old innkeeper’s wife Marie and mother-in-law of the young innkeeper’s wife. The old innkeeper’s wife Marie was extremely skillful and she managed the inn after innkeeper Hans Pedersen’s death until the grandchild Battista Barnuka could take over. Battista Barnuka, also known as Badist Banuk, was named after his grandfather who was Italian and when his mother fell ill, Marie cared for him. Battista Barnuka was a playmate of the later Reverend Tellef Gottfred Petersen.
Badist participated in the war in 1864 and found his wife on Funen. Now the inn, which at its founding was the island’s first trade booth, was expanded and became the gathering place for the island’s farmhands. In 1880, the celebrations of the holidays moved from the farms to the inn.
The Inn is sold
In 1884 Barnuka sold the inn to Niels Iversen and it was he who built the large hall. In 1893 he sold the inn to Anders Christian Andersen, son of farmer Anders Hansen Lindhøj married to Karen, daughter of farmer Hans Jensen Petersen, Bybjerg 19. The business was good during his time as the inn was the island’s only gathering place, even the temperance society held its meetings there. In 1907 the assembly house was built, but the discussions for and against got him so upset that he sold the inn. He started a draper’s shop in Bybjerg 27, where he had previously received 5 acres of land from his mother, now Bygaden 67.
In 1908, the innkeeper was now Julius Cosmus Petersen. He was originally a cabinetmaker and had resided abroad, among other things in South America. He painted and decorated all the walls of the inn with giant canvases. On Orø there is today a picture painted by him in the mortuary. He bought the plot on which Orøstrand community home is today and was planning to build a seaside hotel, but after some years of popinjay, he sold the plot to the community home. He expanded the inn to the south and also added an extra floor to the inn, with several guest rooms, and a skittle alley to the north.
The inn’s next owner was Peter Nielsen, who had previously managed the railway station’s restaurant in Holbæk and after him came Balle who had previously been a waiter in Grundtvig Hus in Copenhagen. When he died his widow took over, assisted by the waiter Lassen, but in 1927 she sold the inn.
War years and fried eel
At the change of ownership, a petition to get the inn closed was arranged. It was especially Reverend Lindhardt, Doctor Rasmussen and Blacksmith Andersen who did an energetic job, but the inn was given a license and continued with N. Chr. Petersen as a innkeeper. He wagered on summer guests, but in 1943 he sold the inn to Oskar Petersen for the sum of DKK 63,000. As early as the following year, the inn was sold to G. Hildsgård, who was very enterprising and, especially during the war years, he did great business with summer guests, as people could not go abroad. In addition to the inn’s rooms, all available rooms in the village were rented out. Hildsgård’s great interest was eel spearing and therefor fried eel became the specialty of the inn and remained so until fairly recent times.
The inn’s next owner was a shoe manufacturer called Mejlby, but he got stuck so Hildsgård took over again for a short while before it was Isbold’s turn. But it didn’t work out and the inn stood empty for a year until 1958 when it was taken over by Peter Stensbøg.
The Bruun family
Then the new Holbæk ferry was inserted, which meant more cars and tourists for the inn. Stensbøg sold in 1961 due to illness and the buyer was called Oskar Petersen. After a changeable existence, the inn, with the creation of Østre Ferry in 1962, got its current good reputation as a favorite destination for people “from the outside”, but it became too much for Oskar Petersen so he sold the inn the same year to Valdemar and Anni Bruun from the Elverdams Inn.
In 1979, the children Kirsten and Svend Bruun took over, and from 1985 to 2010 the inn was run by Svend Bruun and Mrs Søs.
At the beginning of 2010, Orø Kro changed its owner, with a circle of local islanders coming together and buying the inn. Now followed a series of bankruptcies and restructurings before the final bankruptcy and closure in the fall of 2016.
In December 2017 the inn was put on a compulsory sale. In the auction, the contractor and engineer, Michael Kousted, bought the inn, and he has subsequently set in motion a much-needed renovation. Among other things, all electrical installations have been replaced – and the inn has been painted yellow.
Sources: Orø’s cadastral registrant and Inger Varder’s book on Orø (priest’s daughter 1873-1893).