One of the Bulgakov's Moscow buildings: the mansion in Chisty Pereulok to be restored

One of the Bulgakov's Moscow buildings: the mansion in Chisty Pereulok to be restored
There is a theory that this mansion's basement was the place the Master from the legendary Mikhail Bulgakov's 'The Master and Margarita' lived.

Restoration of the main building of Volkonskaya von Meck urban estate at 4/1 Chisty Pereulok is to be completed before the end of this year. In the near future, experts will finish restoring facades and proceed to historical interiors.

Some Mikhail Bulgakov experts believe that it was this mansion's basement where the protagonist of 'The Master and Margarita' rented a small room. The writer and his wife Lyubov Belozerskaya lived in building 9 next to the mansion for a while.  And the famous Kalabukhov's house from 'The Heart of a Dog', where Professor Preobrazhensky had his apartment, is located at the corner of Obukhov Pereulok (renamed Chisty Pereulok in 1922) and Prechistenka Street. Bulgakov also wrote the play 'The Days of the Turbins' and the novel 'The Fatal Eggs' while living in Chisty Pereulok. So Chisty Pereulok and its surroundings are mentioned in many Moscow tourist guidebooks as Bulgakov's sights.

One-storey Empire-style stone building with a wooden mezzanine was erected in 1821 for a brigadier’s wife Sophia Volkonskaya. The image of the building's facade first appeared in archival drawings of 1834. According to Moscow fashion of the time, the stone-and-wood building was fully plastered, its six-column portico crowned with a mezzanine and a balcony, and the mezzanine gable (the upper part of the roof between the slopes) and the side columns decorated with massive plaster mouldings. The side entrance with a cornice and attic (decorative wall) had plaster mouldings too.

Drawing, 1834

But archive documents of 1843 show that the building's front differs greatly from the original one. Plaster mouldings were removed, the mezzanine and the first floor window openings transformed into doorways. Besides, the portico columns got thinner and had carved decor capitals crowning them. By 1868, the front lost its six-column portico and the window openings had horizontal cornices, or hood moulds. In November 1896, the von Mecks, railroad barons, bought the estate. Later, the house changed several owners, who reconstructed and added new parts to the building for a number of times.

By the 1950s, the building was in a critical condition. Photos made in those days show that the front was severely dilapidated, and the mezzanine lost its plaster and a balcony. During the restoration of the 1980s, it was decided to restore the building back, to look like in 1834. Its appearance was recreated after archival drawings. As a result, the front facade regained its portico and plaster moulding, six columns were placed back, with the mezzanine plastered and a balcony attached.

The interiors have also been restored. The rooms on the first floor got back their enfilade design, with old doors and stove mirrors renovated, two wooden carved handrail stairs of the late 19th leading to the entresol and mezzanine upgraded, ceiling plasterwork and part of the original oak parquet of the early 19th century recreated.

"After almost 30 years, the main building of Volkonskaya von Meck's urban estate needs restoration again. The plaster on the facades has cracks, foundation brickwork has collapsed in some places, and the balcony's timber rails have gone rotten. As part of the restoration, experts have already reinforced the foundation, restored the plaster on the walls and missing parts of the plaster mouldings, with the timber balustrade and the balcony rails temporarily dismantled," said Head of the Moscow Cultural Heritage Department Alexei Yemelyanov.

The restorers are to reconstruct the balustrade and the balcony rails using archival drawings of the early 19th century in accordance with the balcony's passport of colour appearance, and the interiors are to be restored as well.

Since Volkonskaya von Meck's urban estate (main building and annexe at 4/2 Chisty Pereulok) is a cultural heritage site of regional significance, any restoration must be approved and supervised by the Moscow Cultural Heritage Department.

Restoration and preservation of architectural monuments is one of priorities of the Moscow Cultural Heritage Department.  Over the past eight years, more than 1,200 architectural monuments have been restored in the city. So, for example, an estate residential house, a piece of Moscow classicism built in the 18th-19th centuries, has been restored in Denezhny Perulok recently. Last December, the restoration of Durasov's Mansion on Pokrovsky Boulevard, built in the late 18th century by Matvey Kazakov, was completed.

This year, the facades of the building on Lesnaya Street now hosting the Underground Printing House of 1905-1906 Museum, as well as the Pavel Shchapov's house built in 1867 have been restored. Besides, there are works underway in Vsevolozhsky's house in Khamovniki district, once visited by Pushkin, Gogol and Belinsky. It is expected that Moscow residents will see the restored building in 2021