A central Moscow house with caryatids and griffins approved as a listed building

January 17

Merchant Kamzolkin’s commercial house has been designated a listed building. Designed by architect Vasily Zagorsky and famous sculptor Sergei Konyonkov, it was finished in 1885 and partly rebuilt after a fire eight years later. The legendary Lev Kekushev also lent a hand as a local architect. He approved repair specifications and a façade overhaul in 1893.

“This elegant commercial house that was officially recognised as a regional cultural heritage site is a real ornament to Prospekt Mira.  What is most valuable about it is the late 19th century façade décor that includes panels, Ionic pilasters, female hermas (columns topped with women’s heads), griffins and caryatids, as well as lion mascarons and other mouldings.  Designating a building as a cultural heritage site guarantees it state protection and the preservation of its historical look,” head of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage Alexei Yemelyanov said.


This land was purchased in 1865 by Vasily Kamzolkin, founder of the Kamzolkin merchant dynasty. Twenty years later, his son Ivan asked the famous architect Vasily Zagorsky to design a three-storey stone house with a cellar.

The works started with pulling down all old wooden and stone houses on the site’s eastern, southern and northern borders. The new building had brick walls; it also had stone staircases, at both the front and back, reinforced with open metal strings, and featuring a turreted metallic roof.

On the ground floor, auxiliary rooms opened into salesrooms through wide semicircular arches with profiled plastered string-courses. 

The salesroom was decorated with a multi-profile plastered cornice with a stuccowork rosette in the middle of the plafond for a chandelier. The ground floor was heated by white-tiled furnaces. It is possible that shop counters were installed inside the arches leading to the auxiliary rooms.

The living rooms on the upper first and second floors were decorated in a style typical of the period, boasting multi-profile or plain plastered cornices, stuccowork rosettes, two-leaved panel doors, and profiled window frames with brass hardware.  The floors had oak block parquetry. The rooms were heated either by corner white-tiled furnaces or fireplaces.

The kitchen and its pantries opened onto the back staircase, but were separated from the living quarters by a long corridor. Wooden floorboards or clay tiles were used as flooring in all the uninhabited rooms. Apart from corridors, a connecting element in the building was formed by a suite of rooms along the street façade. All apartments had plumbing and sewerage.

According to experts, the building’s décor is characterised by eclecticism, with a prevalence of styled classicist elements.    

In 1888, the property was handed over to honorary freeman Alexander Zhuravlyov.  In December 1892, a fire broke out in one of the shops. The owner decided to renovate and make some improvements. The work was coordinated with local architect Lev Kekushev, who confirmed that “the requested repairs are possible.” 

The most important change was on the eastern street façade redesigned by A. Krasilnikov. There were three architects with that name in Moscow at the time. Which one redecorated the building is not clear. A simple façade design, created by Zagorsky, was elaborated, with more stuccowork added. 

Sergei Konyonkov is believed to have created the sculptures, mascarons, caryatids and other stuccowork décor. In his memoirs, he wrote: “Once I got an order to mould caryatids for the façade of a Meshchanskaya Street house owned by tea merchant Perlov (Konyonkov was mistaken: Perlov owned a house nearby– Ed.). The job earned a whole one hundred roubles. I chipped off 35 and bought a Singer sewing machine that I brought to my village in the summer. Needless to say, the others were impressed. None of my folks at home doubted any longer that I would come to something good after all.”

In late 1917 and early 1918, the building was nationalised and converted into communal flats.  Shops continued to trade on the ground floor, as before. In the early 1920s, the southern part at the ground floor level was converted into a restaurant that operated until 1927, when a printing business, which later became part of the Vympel printers, moved into the premises.

In different periods, the building housed eateries, shops, and communal flats. The interior was redesigned several times. Some stuccowork in the rooms and façade elements were lost. The most recent restoration work at the house dates back to 1999.

Source: mos.ru

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