Adolf Øien’s father came from Skogn to Trondheim in 1837. After a brief career as a gunsmith he did well in trade, with liquor as his specialty. Adolf Ferdinand Øien, the oldest of eight children, was admitted to middle school at an early age. In 1866 he went to Christiania [now Oslo] to be admitted to Krigsskolen [now the Norwegian Defence University College], but was "rejected due to myopia". Downcast, he returned to his native city where he had the status of office clerk for a number of years. In 1876 he and his companion Ingebrigt Wahl established the firm Øien&Wahl. They traded in many goods at Sandgata, including ironmongery, chemicals, building supplies, explosives and so on.
Eventually Øien also expanded his activities to include industrial production. The first endeavour was the production of soap (from 1878). Trondhjems Nagle- og Spigerfabrik (TNS [Trondheim rivet and nail factory]) was established in 1897, and this company was still in operation in 2004 in Ila, under the name TEENESS. Adolf Øien was involved in ship-owning and metallurgy and the electro-chemical industry (Ilens smelteverk [smelting plant], from 1907). He also sat on a number of boards in banking and trade, and was active in local politics. Many people would commonly call him "half the town"!
Adolf Øien had a nose for business, and acquired a considerable fortune. In 1882 he married Karen Emilie, maiden name Evensen. They did not any have children and spent much time at their country resort at Midtsandan in Malvik. In May 1918 they made their wills, and they both died within six months. Adolf Øien was interred by his wife's side in Malvik cemetery, and extra trains from Trondheim were arranged for the burial!
Adolf Øien and his wife left several fiscally strong endowment funds, annually supplying various enterprises in Trondheim with substantial support. Trade being a key interest of the donors, the establishment and development of mercantile education has been particularly favoured. In honour of one of Trondheim's great benefactors, one of the upper secondary schools in Trondheim was called Adolf Øien School from 1976 (earlier Trondhjems handelsgymnasium/Trondheim økonomiske gymnast).
Recommended reading: Torbjørn Baustad: Adolf Øien: Trondhjems store donator [Adolf Øien: Trondheim's great benefactor]. 1990.