From ancient chambers to city mansion: Epochs united under the roof of Ratmanov’s house

November 21, 2020

Moscow Cultural Heritage Department surveyors have approved the protection status of a unique architectural 17th-18th century landmark: the official Adrian (Andreyan) Ratmanov’s chambers. All the valuable historical and artistic features of the building have been listed. The subject of protection includes the layout, dimensions and structures of the house, the materials from which it was built, the design and colour of the facades, their architectural decorations, location and form of the windows and doorways, the frames, the chest porch (a space attached to the house, a porch in the classical Russian architecture style) and historical interior design.

“This is a very interesting Moscow landmark, which has contained a mystery for a long time. The house was considered an example of a classical 18th-century mansion with two wings. Only in the 1960s, it was discovered that at the heart of the place, 17th-century Moscow Baroque chambers were hidden. Later, in the 1970s, huge restoration work was carried out: the original layout and the lost façade decorations were restored. Today experts have once again carried out research and developed a detailed subject for protection: a list of all valuable features of the building, which will be used as guidelines for the upcoming work at the landmark,” said Head of the Moscow Cultural Heritage Department Alexei Yemelyanov.

Both the part dating back to Peter the Great’s epoch and the part that was later rebuilt and turned the chambers into a city mansion have survived up until this day.

This is a two-storey structure shaped like a letter “n” with an attic. The building faces Bolshoi Kozlovsky Pereulok and Bolshoi Kharitonyevsky Pereulok. Its facades are covered with white plaster and are decorated with relieves. Good examples, are the windows decorated with architraves with triangular pediments, the main facade that is divided by semi-columns, and the chest porch with steps, as well as the arched vaults and the angled roof leading to the main entrance.

The chambers were commissioned by Adrian (Andreyan) Ratmanov, an official of the Military Chancery. It is known that  Ratmanov in 1703 was given a special order to collect tax from traders and carry out a census of people fit for military service in the Siberian cities of Verkhoturye, Tyumen, Pelym and Turinsk. For this far from easy job, he got paid a year’s wages in advance and became the owner of two estates. However, in 1723, after Ratmanov’s death, all his property was “signed off to the tsar,” because “abuse of power during the census in Siberia” was discovered. By the end of the 18th century, Prince Ivan Kozlovsky (after whom the street was named) became the owner of the mansion. He had it rebuilt in the classical style. The ground floor was used for administrative purposes and had four large chambers: two of them served as cellars  and connected to  the first floor by stairs. The first floor had an enfilade structure and was made residential. The front rooms overlooked the current Bolshoi Kozlovsky Pereulok. The windows of the utility rooms faced the backyard.

Between 1800 and 1830, the house belonged to the family of Colonel Vasily Sukhovo-Kobylin, hero of the 1812 Patriotic War wounded in the battle of Austerlitz. His children became well-known authors. His son became famous as a playwright with creations such as “Krechinsky’s Wedding,” “Business” and “Death of Tarelkin,” while his daughter Yelizaveta became a writer and published books after nom de plume of Yevgenia Tur.

In the 1880s, it became a revenue house and was added to the vast property of Princes Yusupov. At the beginning of the 20th century, it housed an orphanage.

Ratmanov’s chambers are a federal cultural heritage site protected by the state. Today the building houses a public youth organisation.

Since 2011, about 1,500 cultural heritage sites have been done up in Moscow, including 203 in 2019. Preserving and restoring Moscow architectural landmarks is an essential part of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage’s job. Approving the protection of landmarks makes it possible to systematise and describe their valuable features.


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