Primary school and public order squad HQ: City Parochial School becomes a listed building

Primary school and public order squad HQ: City Parochial School becomes a listed building
The three-story red brick structure was built in 1904 and is a notable example of eclecticism. It’s also similar to other early 20th century public buildings.

The former Fyodor Kopeikin-Serebryakov City Parochial School has been given the status of a cultural heritage site of regional importance. The three-story red brick building with a semi-basement, Building 1 at 7 Bolshoi Predtechensky Pereulok, was built in 1904 and is a notable example of eclecticism. The architect of the project Nikolai Blagoveshchensky worked at the Moscow diocese from 1900 to1913.

“The school bears the name of a Moscow soap maker and patron of the arts Fyodor Kopeikin-Serebryakov (1829-1900) who funded the construction of the building. The philanthropist bequeathed 200,000 roubles to the Moscow City Public Administration for building educational institutions for men and women. The parochial school in Bolshoi Predtechensky is a typical example of early 20th century public buildings. Remarkably, the establishment has remained virtually unchanged over the past century,” said head of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage Alexei Yemelyanov.

The red brick facades of the building are patterned with white square decorative brickwork (grooves in the wall with multistage frames). The cornices are decorated with dentils – small rectangular protrusions forming a pattern. Arched windows are reinforced with fanlike keystones that make the stone arch strong enough to hold a heavy load. The main facade of the building is decorated with a corbel arch belt (a series of decorative corbel arches along the walls) and curbs (decorative bands made of brick angles protruding from the masonry).

According to Alexei Yemelyanov, the original interior of the building has not changed either. The grand staircase made up of dolomite steps and ornately shaped metal rails has survived, and so did the arched high ceilings – Monier vaults – in the basements.

The status of a regional cultural heritage site gives the building government protection. Any repair or restoration work will now be carried out only under the supervision of the City Department of Cultural Heritage and only after planning permission has been granted. It is prohibited to destroy an architectural landmark, and its historical look is not allowed to be changed in any way.

A bit of history

The City Parochial School in Bolshoi Predtechensky accepted both girls and boys aged between 8 and 12, regardless of their social background or religion. The children were taught reading and writing, basic arithmetic, religious studies and the Church Slavonic language, as well as how to sing hymns. Similar primary schools were very common in the Russian Empire from the late 1870s to 1917. During the December 1905 armed uprising, workers barricaded Bolshoi Predtechensky. The Trekhgornaya Manufaktura Factory School was turned into a canteen for the public order squad together with a medical station, while another canteen was at the Kopeikin-Serebryakov Parochial School. Volunteer medics could also sign up there.

Nikolai Blagoveshchensky (1867-1926) was a Russian architect who built many churches in the Moscow suburbs, but became renowned for his late eclecticism and modernity public buildings in Moscow. Some of his buildings have survived – the bell-tower of the Old Believer Church of St Catherine in the Karasyov Mansion (18 Baumanskaya Street), the Krasnoprudnaya electric tram substation (Building 1 at 16 Krasnoprudnaya Street), the guesthouse at the Church of the Rzhev Icon of the Mother of God (10 Bolshoi Rzhevsky Pereulok) as well as the school building (37 Donskaya Street).

Moscow is constantly working on the preservation and restoration of its architectural heritage. The list of its cultural heritage sites is regularly updated: in the last seven years alone, about 700 buildings have been added. Of these, more than 370 are newly identified sites of cultural heritage, and 325 have federal or regional cultural heritage status. In August, the 19th century Meat Exchange, an industrial eclecticism building, became a listed building.

The list of regional cultural heritage landmarks has been enriched by the 19th century city estate on Novaya Basmannaya Street, which famous French writer Alexander Dumas Sr. visited in the year 1858. In July, the Bureniny apartment building, an example of a Romano-Gothic style, and the 18th-19th centuries Shnaubert city estate in Khokhlovsky Pereulok were recognised as regional cultural heritage landmarks. Another building was merchant Nikolai Titov's guest house on Ruzheiny Pereulok. The decorative parts of the building are typical for 16th-17th century Russian architecture and in the case resemble “gingerbread.” In June, merchant Sheshkov's guest house where writer Anton Chekhov lived in 1899-1900 became a newly identified cultural heritage site.