The Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage has approved the design to be used in renovating the House of Journalists on Nikitsky Boulevard. The restoration work of the 18th-century three-storey mansion (8a/3 Bldg 1, Nikitsky Boulevard) will get underway later on in the summer.
The house was built in the 1730’s for the Gagarin princes. In the latter half of the 19th century, it was owned by the Pribylov merchants, who commissioned architect Alexander Vivien to draw up plans so that it could be reconstructed. The facades were redecorated in an eclectic style and have survived to this very day. After the 1917 revolution, it served as the House of the Press, later renamed the House of Journalists, or “Domzhur.”
The mansion is a cultural heritage site of regional importance and protected by the state. The house next door (8a/3 Bldg 2, Nikitsky Boulevard) will also be done up as it is considered to be an architectural monument. The building houses the memorial flat of the famous historian and specialist on Moscow, Pyotr Sytin. Both mansions are occupied by the Russian Union of Journalists.
“The House of Journalists is of great historical importance for the city of Moscow. It was and continues to be one of the main cultural venues for celebrity events, concerts, poetic recitals, and meetings with writers and social commentators. In the early 20th century, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Sergei Yesenin, Demyan Bedny and Alexander Blok read their poems there. In 1941, it was a meeting place, from which Moscow journalists left for the front of the war. The building also has architectural and artistic value, being an exemplar of eclectic style in Moscow architecture. We are planning to complete the renovation of the House of Journalists and the house next door before the end of 2021,” head of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage Alexei Yemelyanov said.
Under the project, the roofs and all exterior walls will be restored, including the richly decorated main façade designed by Alexander Vivien. Its composition includes ten windows surrounded by stuccowork decor and the top of the facade has a stuccowork frieze, and there are also pilasters. The ground floor has a ribbon rustication dotted with imitations of fanlike stone wedges. Crowning the main facade is a cornice with a rectangular attic.
“The historical interiors will also be renovated. They have survived only in part. The stuccowork decor of the ceilings, the moulded door portals, marble and wooden windowsills, the moulded plafonds, cornices, the fireplace with a mirror over it, the marble grand staircase, and plenty more will be put in order and carefully restored,” Mr Yemelyanov added.
He noted that the stuccowork facades and historical interiors of the mansion next door (8a/3 Bldg 2, Nikitsky Boulevard) will also be subject to renovation. The whole job will be controlled by his department’s inspectors. On completion, the buildings will then be ready and suitable for modern-day use.
The Department of Cultural Heritage prioritises the preservation and restoration of architectural monuments in Moscow. Many of these get a new lease of life as they are adapted so that they are more suited to present day conditions. At the same time, they are a living reminder of how Moscow looked once upon a time. Since 2011, the city has renovated more than 1,400 cultural heritage sites, 203 of them in 2019 alone.
Restoration work has resumed on the famous rotund bowers at Gorky Park after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in the city. They have been a favourite retreat for the public promenading along the Moskva river for two centuries. The Rodina cinema theatre in eastern Moscow, a unique monument of post-constructivism, is also being done up. Renovation work will soon start on the mansion of the Markov merchants in Karetny Ryad Street. It is the house where the famous stage director Konstantin Stanislavsky resided between 1903 and 1920.