The landscape and unique flora have attracted many, including great artists such as Edvard Munch, Peder Balke, Hans Gude and many others. The same traditions of hospitality so much appreciated by visitors to Refsnes in the past is upheld by Hotel Refsnes Manor for the benefit of today’s guests. David Chrystie was one of the towns leading businessmen. He ran an prosperious timber company as well as being involved in other branches of business and was well respected and popular in Moss. Among other things he was also a principal patron of the foundation of the Bank of Norway.
Refsnes soon became Chrystie’s favourite haunt and it seems most likely that it was he who gave the buildings and surrounding landscape their patrician character. The main building has been dated to around 1767. The famous limetree avenue in front of the house was probably planted in Chrystie’s time and it was he who gave the grounds their park like appearance. David and his beautiful wife Sophie were known for their generous hospitality and a blossoming social scene developed at Refsnes. There are several recordings in their diaries of the successful society functions hosted by the Chrystie’s.
Even in the difficult years after 1814 the well-to-do citizens continued to amuse themselves at the hunting-lodge which Refsnes was known as at the time. There were numerous balls and parties and one diary entry from that period describes a masquerade for 300 guests. Many famous artists of the period were regular guests of the Chrystie’s at Refsnes. Henrik Wergelands sister, Camilla visited in 1831 with her parents. She was 21 years old and the visit to Refsnes obviously made a strong impression on Camilla Collet, as she later became. In her memories she mentions ‘lovely Refsnes’ and many years later recalled “this rich and handsomely appointed family did everything to ensure our visit was pleasurable and comfortable”.
David Chrystie died in 1835 and his widow took over Refsnes. They had no children and in 1844 she sold the estate to a man called Jens Christiansen. This signalled the end of a great epoch in Refsnes’ history. The Chrystie’s had run Refsnes for about 50 years.
In 1855 Consul Lorentz Meyer took over the estate and with him began a new period of fame for Refsnes. Consul Meyer came to love the place. He built two towers to accommodate the need for more space for his family. He spent every single summer there with his family and friends. The Consul was known to have great love of old trees and the wealth of deciduos trees at Refsnes gave him great pleasure. Like his predecessors he kept open house for his family and his friends over the summer season with large social gatherings.