The builder of the salt storage, Christian Barthold Rotermann (1849–1912), was one of the most prominent industrialists in Tallinn at the beginning of the 20th century. His grandfather, Christian Rotermann, was a goldsmith in Paide and his father Christian Abraham Rotermann (1801–70) a hatter who moved to Tallinn in 1828 and established the Chr. Rotermann market house there. The market mainly
specialized in the manufacture as well as import and export of building materials. In 1849 Christian Abraham Rotermann built a department store in Viru Square.
A whole complex of factories was gradually added to Christian Abraham Rotermann’s market, and the so-called Rotermann Quarter was created in
the area along Mere puiestee. The complex included a woodworking factory (established in the 1830s), a starch factory and distillery, a flour mill, a bakery and a coolhouse. In 1861, Rotermann sen. built the first steam mill in Tallinn, which became part of his Maarjamäe starch factory and distillery. The latter was destroyed in a fire in 1869 and Rotermann moved his steam mill to Hobujaama Street. In 1859, Christian Abraham Rotermann became a town councilor of Tallinn for life.
Christian Barthold Rotermann continued his father’s business operations. He extended the iron and woodworking plants, erected a steam sawmill building in 1879, and in 1887 established a macaroni factory. In 1888 he set up a new warehouse in Mere puiestee and then a grain mill, which soon became the biggest in Tallinn, buying grain from the Volga area and Western Siberia. One of the first private telephone cables was laid in the grounds of the Rotermann factories in the 1880. Rotermann was among the first men in Tallinn to buy a car (Argus) at the beginning of the century, and the Reo of his son Christian Ernst August was the first American car in Tallinn. During Christian Barthold’s directorship, the Rotermanns’ company was widely known in Russia and Western Europe. Rotermann himself was a town councilor and honorary consul of Belgium.
In 1909–10 Rotermann built himself a fashionable three-storied brick house in a style reminiscent of Finnish national Romanticism near Viru Square in Mere puiestee. The drawings carry the signature of Erst Boustedt, but according to some data, the actual author of the house may be the prominent Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen. In 1912, Rotermann extended his department store and built a new bakery. Rotermann’s bakery had a department also in Viljandi.
Christian Ernst August Rotermann (1869–1950) carried on the family traditions. In 1921, he became board chairman of AS Rotermanni Tehased, the leading flour and bread company in Estonia in the 1920s and 30s. Its enterprises – the flour mill, bakery, sawmill, raw flax factory and coolhouse, employed a total of 300 people in the late 1920s. AS Rotermanni Tehased wound up its operations as of 1940. Ernst Rotermann died in Lidingö, Sweden.