In the Eclectic Style: History of the Zimins' mansion in Degtyarny Lane

December 18, 2021

Degtyarny Lane (Tar Lane), so named in the 18th century, connects Tverskaya Street with Malaya Dmitrovka Street. Once there was a tar warehouse for the royal stables — hence the name.

Many buildings of architectural and historical significance survived in the lane until now. One of the most notable buildings is the Zimins’ mansion (house 8, building 3). This eclectic building was constructed by order of Nikolai Gavrilovich Zimin, famous merchant, tobacco manufacturer and hereditary citizen of Moscow.

He purchased a plot of land in Degtyarny Lane from the privy councilor E.O. Zharkova in 1889. Same year, the old gates were replaced by new ones with metal wings on stone posts. Seven years later a mansion was built where Zimin settled with his family. The project was made by a prominent representative of Moscow Art Nouveau Edmund Yuditsky.

The central part of the main facade was highlighted with a decorative avant corps — a risalit, and a metal canopy was made over the main entrance. The main entrance was additionally emphasized by an open balcony with a round balustrade fence on the first floor level. A cartouche was placed above the balcony with the inscription "1896", meaning the year of construction.

A characteristic feature of the design of the facade overlooking the yard were six round window openings of the upper tier. They are framed by square stucco linings and aligned along the same axes as the windows of lower floors.

The spatial arrangement of the interiors was formed around the main multi-flight stair. Rooms are grouped around it, connected by a corridor that goes around the staircase on three sides. The architect arranged the halls of the front suite along the main facade on the first floor.

The mansion interior was striking in its luxury: stucco and sculptural decor, artificial marble, glued-laminated parquet, tiled stove, picturesque panels — Zimin was a rich man and spared no expense for decoration. In addition, a home theater was arranged in one of the halls.

Shortly before the revolution, the mansion came into possession of Zimin's wife Anna Ivanovna. The interiors of the building underwent minor alterations at that time. It is known that famous Moscow architect Alexey Chichagov supervised the works.

Photo by Yevgeny Samarin, Press Service of the Mayor and Moscow Government

After the revolution, the house was nationalized and occupied by the board of the Sverdlov Communist University where personnel for the highest party administration were trained. At that time, the mosaic floor was covered with parquet, and some doorways were bricked up.

Since 1974, the former Zimins' mansion housed the Research Institute of the All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography.

Returning the Original Appearance

By 2014 the building was not exactly in a state of disrepair but in an extremely poor technical condition, therefore it was decided to begin scientific restoration. It was a large-scale task — to return the mansion to its original appearance and adapt for modern use.

Specialists strengthened the walls and openings, plastered cracks in the brickwork, replaced the roof, restored the ceilings, including semicircular arch structures, known in architecture as Monier arches. The stucco decoration was restored on the facades.

In the interiors, experts managed to restore the color scheme, stucco molding, floors covered by metlakh tiles, ceiling cornices, wooden plafonds and artificial marble wall cladding. Picturesque panels dedicated to the seasons located next to the grand staircase were restored, as well as wall paintings and mosaic floors in the interiors of the winter garden.

Besides, specialists successfully recreated the historical parquet and restored the stove tilework that was specially manufactured for the Zimins' mansion by the Kuznetsov Partnership for Production of Porcelain and Faience Products. As for the attic space, it was turned into a recreational area.

In 2016, the Zimins’ mansion became the winner of the Moscow Restoration contest in the Best Restoration/Adaptation Project and the Best Organization of Repair and Restoration Work nominations.

Currently, the building houses the Agency for Management and Use of Historical and Cultural Monuments.


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