Cartouche with the letter M, cupids and stained glass windows: Art Nouveau mansion on Prospekt Mira to be restored
The former residential building, a piece of Art Nouveau style of the 19th-20th centuries on Prospekt Mira, is going to be restored. Originally, it was the main two-storey manor house with a mezzanine, owned by Maria Raevskaya, a court counsellor.
In 1902, when it already belonged to Sofia Zimmerman married to a Moscow 2nd guild merchant, the building was rebuilt into a monumental Art Nouveau mansion. The mezzanine was dismantled during the reconstruction by Alexander Grebenshchikov, a civil engineer and architect. Avant-corps appeared near the building, and a three-story extension with a gateway arch was erected on the north side. This is the way it looks today. The last owner of the building was Sergey Morgunov, the owner of a weaving factory. In the Soviet times, the mansion served as a hospital. Today it is home to Soloist Choir under the baton of Mikhail Turetsky.
Secrets of the old mansion
Different number of floors (two or three) in different parts makes the house asymmetric, which is unusual for estate mansions. The compositional centre is marked with avant-corps ― a high tower-like projection. The lower projections, also resembling towers, are located at the south-east and north-east corners of the building. Above the window is a monogram of the last mansion’s owner, manufacturer Morgunov. There is also a slightly curved cornice over the monogram. The walls at the top of the windows are decorated with floral plaster mouldings typical for European Art Nouveau.
Originally, the plinth of the central façade was lined with stone, and the plinth of the courtyard and side facades with black subway ceramic tiles ― elongated, angled brick-shaped tiles. In the Soviet times, the building was reconstructed. Inside, a part of the house furnaces were removed and some partitions destroyed, the siding of the facades was also changed. Both the stone plinth and the subway tiles were replaced with classic rectangular black ceramic tiles.
“Decorative ornaments in the ceremonial rooms on the second floor - large and small halls, as well as a staircase with artificial pink marble steps in the northern part of the building have been preserved. The turquoise painted walls of the large hall are decorated with plaster mouldings ― garlands of roses with ribbons and cupid bas-reliefs. Paintings with flowers have survived. Also, the hall has its original wooden doors and window frames and even the stained glass windows. There are floral patterns painted on the glasses of windows and doors. The small hall, where the hosts allegedly received their guests, has a fireplace of natural and artificial marble. On the sides of the fireplace are cupboards attached to the walls, for small dishes and knick-knacks,” said Alexei Yemelyanov, Head of the Department of Cultural Heritage.
As Alexei explained, the building had some local repairs and restoration, but no comprehensive restoration since it was built. The roof leaks, due to which the plaster and paint layers inside the house are partially destroyed, there are leak stains on the walls, some areas are covered with mould. The metal beams of the floors got rusted and the masonry cracked.
How the Art Nouveau monument will be restored
The mansion on Prospekt Mira is a cultural heritage site of regional significance. Experts conducted large research work - they studied archives, drawings and photographs, assessed the condition of the building and its architectural features, and then made a restoration project. It was approved by the Department of Cultural Heritage, and all works will be supervised by its specialists.
According to the project, the specialists will reinforce the masonry and the foundation, restore the historic windows, dismantle the old roof and replace it with a new one. A roof lantern above the fireplace room will also be recreated on the roof, dormer windows, brick pipes left from the stoves will be restored, and the lost ones will be restored according to the preserved samples.
The facades will be cleaned of old paint and plaster, the cracks on the walls will be sealed with special bonding compounds. Then the surface of the walls will be levelled, primed and painted in mustard colour, and the plaster decor in white. Black Soviet-era ceramic tiles will be removed, with the main façade plinth covered with black subway tile instead.
Inside the building, the original parquet will be refreshed and its lost elements will be recreated, the plaster mouldings, stained-glass windows, a fireplace, as well as chandeliers and glass with a painting in the small hall will be restored. Wooden panels in the front lobby will be restored by analogy of the panels in the fireplace room. In addition, engineering systems will be completely replaced in the building.
The fence around the building will be restored, too. Professionals will remove the black ceramic tiles from the pillars, fasten the brickwork on them, and line them with white stone. Lost elements of the metal fence will be restored using the existing analogues. In addition, decorative elements of the fence - flowerpots and cornices will be recreated according to the preserved samples.
Alexander Grebenshchikov (1873–1930) was a Russian and Soviet engineer and architect, Art Nouveau master. He graduated from the Institute of Civil Engineers, from 1908 to 1912 served as an architect of the Moscow University. Supervised the construction of psychology and neurology institutes at the university. Designed sewer systems, ventilation and heating of the buildings, designed private houses. His works include revenue houses in Kolobkovsky Pereulok (No. 10) and Nikitsky Boulevard (No. 15), a residential building with apartments for visiting astronomers (Novovagankovsky Pereulok, 5, building 4).
Underground printing house and much more: what else is restored in Moscow
Restoration and preservation of architectural monuments is one of priorities of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage. Over the past eight years, more than 1,200 architectural monuments have been restored in the city.
Last December, restoration of the Durasov house, built in the late 18th century according to the design of the architect Matvey Kazakov, was completed on Pokrovsky Boulevard. This 18th century mansion is a typical piece of Russian classical architecture. This year, the facades of the building on Lesnaya Street now hosting the museum “Underground Printing House of 1905–1906”, as well as the house of Pavel Shchapov built in 1867 have been restored. This March, the former 18th – 19th-century residential house of a city estate in Denezhny Pereulok, an outstanding example of classical architecture in Moscow, has been renovated.