This series of posts comprises a few loosely translated extracts from Bolshoi Gorod, a fine Russian magazine of art and culture. In April last year, they did a small series on pre-Revolutionary private dwellings in Moscow, and these seemed of artistic interest in this blog. The tragedy is that it’s impossible for the average man-on-the-street to enter these residences, which are closed to the public even on the two days of the year (April 18, May 18) that are named Days of Culture, and it took nearly half a year of attrition and persuasion for Bolshoi Gorod to obtain access.
Nikolai Kazakov’s House
Embassy of Canada, Starokonyushenny pereulok, 23.
This house was constructed between 1898 and 1901 by the architect Karl Hippius, the designer of the Tea House in the Chinese style on the Myasnitsa. The tea-merchant Nikolai Kazakov commissioned the building: a two-storeyed semi-detached mansion with two front entrances. Much of the decor in a Franco-Belgian art nouveau remains. The Kazakov family occupied part of the ground floor, while the remaining rooms were rented out. The mansion had heated water, electric lighting, municipal water supply and sewerage.
In the years 1900-1907, the apartment on the first floor (now the residence of the Canadian ambassador) was occupied by Elizaveta Morozova, wife and daughter of merchants and furriers. The ground floor apartment (these days the Canadian embassy) was the rented by the banker, Nikolai Vtorov, who at the time was building his own mansion on the Spasopeskovsky site. The Medvednikovsky gymnasium (today’s School №59, named after Gogol) was situated opposite the Kazakov house; its sporting hall was funded by Vtorov.
In 1917, Kazakov’s wife Nadezhda sold the house to a Dutchwoman, Emilia Peltzer, wife of the physician Friedrich Peltzer. In 1924, the Danish mission occupied the house; by the 1950s, the Canadian embassy had taken over the building. Glenn Gould visited Moscow in 1957; the piano he played on still stands in the ambassador’s residence. Diplomatic receptions continue to be held in the residence, in which the old interiors are preserved: eclectic mouldings, parquet floor and the original doors. The ground floor decor is in the Art Nouveau style.