St. Petersburg

Maisons and Estates

26 Sep 2018
St. Petersburg is known for grand palaces and lavish mansions that all tourists flock to in their hundreds if not thousands. Of course, coming to St. Petersburg and not visiting Peterhof or the Winter Palace would amount to a crime against culture and history. But once you’ve ticked off these touristic musts, why not leave the masses and dip out to some of the lesser known mansions, some of which are abandoned and borderline derelict but still so full of charm and Instagram potential. Although largely unknown and passed by, it would be difficult to imagine the Northern Capital without these architectural masterpieces.

Baron von Stieglitz Mansion
This mansion on 68 English Embankment was designed by the architect A. Krakau between 1859 - 1862 for Baron von Stieglitz. During the construction of the new building, two walls of old houses were partially used and the architectural appearance of the building boasts distinctly Florentine Renaissance motifs. In 1918, the owner was shot and the palace was nationalized. For a long time, it housed various institutions. In 1968, the mansion was taken under state protection. In 1988, the restoration of the building began; it was meant to be used for a museum. But the revolutionary events of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s prevented these plans from being realized. The palace passed into private hands and remained empty for a long time. In 2011, the Stieglitz House was given to St. Petersburg State University. Although the interiors are in need of restoration, you can still feel the spirit of 19th century St. Petersburg when walking through the halls, which are beautiful in an eerie sort of way.
Angliskaya nab. 68, M Admiralteiskaya.

Brusnitsyn Mansion
The first stone house on the corner of Kozhevennaya Liniya on Vasilievsky Island was built in the 1770’s. At around the same time, Catherine the Great decreed that tanneries be established in the area. In 1844, the house was bought by the merchant Nikolay Brusnitsyn, who then opened the Brusnitsyn and Sons Tannery. A few years later, the mansion was reconstructed, expanded and slightly remodelled to accommodate for additions such as a winter garden and a large conservatory with glass panes between elegant wrought iron frames. The interiors, largely intact today, include the white ceremonial hall the Louis XV with particularly rich gilded stucco work, the formal dining room with its extraordinary carved oak ceiling and the intricately patterned Moorish smoking room. As with most mansions, following the 1917 Revolution the Bolsheviks nationalized and repurposed it. The Brusnitsyn Mansion was used to house the factory administrative offices and some workshops. The factory continued to operate until the mid-1990’s and since then the building’s future has been uncertain. But what is certain is that it’s one of St.Petersburg’s greatest hidden treasures.
Kozhevennaya liniya 27, M Primorskaya.

Dernov house
Just a few minutes away from Smolny Cathedral, Dernov Financial House was built between 1903-1904 and ever since then it has been lovingly called the “House with the Tower”. The first resident was poet V. Ivanov and his wife, also a writer, so if the walls could talk, they would tell many tales of the different famous cultural figures who would come visit, such as A. Blok, V. Bryusov, K. Somov, V. Meyerhold, A. Akhmatova and Maxim Gorky. In 1918 the first floor of the house was converted into an art school until the start of WWII. The Dernov apartment building was typical of its time, with a range of apartments catering to tenants with differing levels of income. In addition to being a famous poet and philosopher, Ivanov was also one of the main theorists of Symbolism. The subjects he offered his guests for discussion included “Romanticism and the Modern Soul” and “Individualism and the new art”, so the “Tower” became a sort of spiritual home for the various talents that gathered there. Today, the building is home to a kindergarten so unless you’re a small child, you can only get a glimpse of the interiors, including several fi ne stained-glass windows, as part of a guided tour.
Tavricheskaya ul. 35, M Chernyshevskaya.

Dobbert Mansion
Until 1861, individuals were not allowed to build stone structures on the Petrograd side so this area was dotted with wooden mansions. Back then, on the territory near the future Dobbert Mansion, you could fi nd the wooden mansion of government advisor Greff . At the end of the 19thcentury, an architect from Riga by the name of Reinberg rebuilt it for the wife of doctor Dobbert in a neo-romantic style with gothic elements. Following the 1917 Revolution, this mansion housed a kindergarten. At the present it is abandoned but there are plans to convert it in the near future into the mediatheque of the Theater of Modern Dance of Boris Eifman.
Bol. Pushkarskaya ul. 14, M Chkalovskaya.

Forostovsky Mansion
Another Vasilievsky Island gem, the Forostovsky Mansion was built in 1900-1901 by the famous architect Carl Schmidt for merchant Pavel Forostovsky. It is one of the city’s first buildings designed in the Art Nouveau style. There was a conservatory with a glazed roof in the right-side single-story part of the building. The artificial stone reliefs and on the building’s stained glass windows display whimsical plant-inspired motifs. Architecture enthusiasts will undoubtedly see similarities with French and Belgian Art Nouveau thanks to the light-colored granite facing tiles from Europe and the forms of the window entablatures and arches. This mansion is widely recognized as one of Carl Schmidt’s fi nest works. During the Soviet times the mansion housed a children’s hospital. Today, it is used as a government office.
VO, 4‑ya liniya 9, M Vasileostrovskaya.

Gilze van der Pals Villa
Located on Anglisky Prospekt, this villa is one of the finest Art Nouveau buildings in the city. The first proud owner was Henrich Gilze van der Pals, a Dutch businessman and general consul of the Netherlands. Elements of the National Romanticism imported from Russia’s Nordic neighbors decorate the mansion’s exterior (think semi-circular windows, gray tiles and turrets) and on the inside you will find a hodgepodge of styles: Renaissance, Rococo, Gothic and early modernist. After the 1917 Revolution, the mansion was used by the Union of German Youth, then changed into the House of Enlightenment and also housed a military draft board. Luckily, the interiors managed to survive. What is especially interesting about this mansion is the courtyard, which was designed in the form of a Dutch farm. Your camera will have a field day with the elegant half-timbered tower covered with green tiles. So even if you don’t have time to look inside the house, do get a glimpse of this unique bit of Dutch St. Petersburg.
Anglisky pr. 8‑10, M Admiralteiskaya.

K.K. Ekval Mansion
Built at the start of the 20th century, this mansion is special because it is one of the few remaining examples of wooden early Modern architectural style. K. K. Ekval, owner of a cast iron and mechanical factory, put an unknown (at the time) architect by the name of F. I. Lidval on this project. If you know St. Petersburg’s architectural history, you’ll know that Lidval went on to become a worldfamous master of the Modern style and this mansion is considered his first fully realized work. By 1901 the construction was complete and Ekval was the proud owner of a two-floor mansion decorated with wide windows, stunning ornaments and many other fi ne details. Today this wooden masterpiece and a monument to Lidval’s early work is empty and does not receive guests.
Krasnogvardeisky per. 15, M Chernaya rechka.
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