Pompeian red and unique parquet: Abrikosov Estate renovation

Pompeian red and unique parquet: Abrikosov Estate renovation
The Department of Cultural Heritage ordered the renovation project of the Abrikosov Estate last autumn. Renovators, architects, builders and historians found the best solutions to restore the mansion’s historical appearance after a fire. Most of the research and accident prevention work has already been carried out.

The main mansion at the Abrikosov Estate in the city is scheduled for renovation. The four-storey building with basement on Potapovsky Pereulok is an Eclecticism architectural landmark that was created between the end of 18th century and the 1930s.

The earliest document on this estate is dated 1671, when, according to archives, the building belonged to three trader brothers: Mikhail, Ivan and Andrei Guryev. The Abrikosov, traders and manufacturers, who opened a large confectionary plant in the second half of the 19th century, were its most famous owners.

Renovation process

Even before the big fire in 2009 which almost destroyed the mansion completely, it was dilapidated and the residents had to be relocated elsewhere. It took a lot of time for renovators, architects and historians to find the best solutions to preserve the landmark and restore its historical appearance. The Research and Methods Council under Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage determined that the renovation would be carried using the design traits of the time the estate and the mansion were built.

“The vaulted chambers in the basement, that date to the late 17th century, must be renovated. More than three hundred years ago they belonged to the Guryev traders. The house’s façades should be rebuilt to the 1880s style with the design elements from 18th century Baroque architraves and the engaged columns found on the facades. A restoration of the rustication (masonry imitating natural stone) and a section of the 17th century stonework on the ground floor level is required,” said Andrei Batalov, chair of the Research and Methods Council.

Batalov said the Abrikosov apartment will be renovated completely: the original layout destroyed in the fire will be restored including the proper colours. Archive descriptions and photos of the interior will be used to restore the painted stucco and wall murals.

The apartment has several rooms. There are sections of pink surfacing and fragments of a large mirror that has survived in the children’s room. Both the facing and the mirror will be restored. The walls in the Pompeian Hall will once again be painted with Pompeian red (a special shade commonly found in historical frescoes in Pompeii) and the golden meander (a decorative border) will be renovated. Renovation will also be carried out in the front bedroom, dining room and studio. According to the archive materials, the walls in the studio were covered with wooden panels. White-stone staircases from the ground floor and a mirrored portal at the entrance survived the fire. Several pieces of the covering have also survived in the portal that was covered with wooden panels. They will be used to recreate the other elements.

“Most of the research and accident prevention work has been carried out in recent months. The wreckage was cleared and the crumbling elements were removed. Now the loadbearing structure is being strengthened. Last autumn the Department of Cultural Heritage issued an order to the owner to develop a restoration project that would make the landmark usable again. It is expected that the restoration project will take about five years,” said Alexei Yemelyanov, head of the Department of Cultural Heritage.

According to Yemelyanov, after the 2009 fire, the building is in an emergency condition. The wooden structures on the upper floors and ceilings suffered a lot of damage. The lower floors mostly suffered water damage as the fire was being put out.

As of today, experts have completed 3D laser scanning and taken the building’s measurements on the inside and outside as well as forms of the remaining stucco detailing. The surviving pieces of the parquet flooring have been pulled up to recreate the entire floor with the original pattern.

о декора. Уцелевшие фрагменты наборного паркета сняли для последующего воссоздания.

Previous owners and builders

The single storey stone chambers built at the end of the 17th – beginning of the 18th century, that belong to the wealthy Guryev brothers, remain at the centre of the building.

In 1728, the estate was bought by Rodion Koshelev, a stallmaster at the Royal Stalls. He built a stone wing on the side of the courtyard and rebuilt the facades: the windows received decorative Baroque architraves with the engaged columns between them, and the walls were rusticated. In the late 18th century, several new buildings and a wing, that was later connected with the main mansion, were built.

In the 1820s, the estate belonged to the traders Zolotaryov who rented apartments in the main mansion, including private boarding houses. There was a women’s boarding house run by Madam Shreier and a boarding house for boys run by Lutheran pastor Ludwig Ennes who became a Russian citizen. His boarding house was the best private school in Moscow in the mid-19th century. Doctor Sergei Botkin and historian Vladimir Guerrier studied there.

The first floor (above the ground floor) was added in the late 19th century. Trader Alexei Abrikosov and his large family were the last owners of the estate in 1881-1917. Alexei and his wife Agrippina had 22 children, 17 of which lived long lives. The Abrikosovs occupied a suite with 12 rooms while renting some of them. During their time, the interior was redesigned by engineer Ivan Chervenko. Historians believe that he also designed the luxurious decorations in the owners’ quarters with the detailed stucco and gilded surfacing on the walls and ceilings, the carved doors, marble windowsills and mosaic parquet floor.

The façade facing Sverchkov Pereulok

After 1917, the building was nationalised and divided into commune apartments. In the 1930s, in order to increase the living space, two more floors were added to the mansion, for four stories total. At the beginning of the 2000s the building was condemned due to dilapidation, and the residents had to be relocated. A fire broke out on the upper floors in 2009.

Alexei Abrikosov (1824–1904) is a Russian entrepreneur and manufacturer who was part of a confectionary dynasty. It was founded by his grandfather Stepan Nikolayev, a bondsman for a Penza lady, who was released with his family at the beginning of the 19th century. He began to produce sweets: iced fruit, jams and the apricot paste that gave the trader his new name, Abrikosov. After moving to Moscow, Stepan Abrikosov joined the traders of Semyonovskaya Sloboda. His son Ivan inherited the family business and turned it into a large manufacturer, and grandson Alexei founded the Manufacturing and Trading Association of Alexei Abrikosov and Sons in the late 19th century. The manufacturing site was situated on Malaya Krasnoselskaya Street: the manufacturer’s residence can still be seen today.

The company produced several tonnes of caramel and chocolate per year as well as sponge cakes, paste and sweets. In 1899, the association became the supplier for the Emperor’s court thus gaining the right to put the national coat of arms on its products.

Alexei Abrikosov and his wife Agrippina were well-known in Moscow for their charity. For example, during the Crimean War (1853–1856) Abrikosov made annual donations to hospitals and militia and later became a member of the committee that provided aid to the families of soldiers killed or injured during the 1877–1878 Russo-Turkish War. His wife left 100,000 roubles to build a maternity hospital and orphanage (it was built in 1906). The Art Nouveau building has survived until today and is named after its founder.

After the revolution, the facility was nationalised and renamed State Confectionary No. 2. In 1922, it was renamed again after a Moscow Bolshevik who headed the Sokolniki District Committee, Pyotr Babayev. The company is still called the Babayevsky Confectionary Company today.

The Abrikosov Estate is a regional cultural landmark, thus the original appearance and structure must be maintained, and the building cannot be used for storage or for flammable or hazardous material manufacturing. The Department of Cultural Heritage will monitor the owner’s efforts to restore and preserve the estate.