Restoration of historical residential buildings in Moscow

October 7, 2020
Municipal services

Residential buildings in Moscow boast an inimitable history, and especially places close to the centre of the city. There are many examples such as the house on 2ndTroitsky Pereulok built by the staff architect of the Trinity Lavra of St Sergius. A house on Petrovsky Pereulok was where Anatoly Mariengof and Sergei Yesenin lived. What puts these dwellings in the same category is a Moscow restoration programme which will soon give them a new lease of life.

Blocks of flats that are architecturally and historically interesting are being done up and this includes the facades, foundations, entrance halls, roofs, cellars plus utility services of the buildings.

Since the start of 2020, a government expert review panel has endorsed 87 related structural repair jobs, with another 30 being contemplated. The Structural Repairs Fund (SRF) is planning to submit a total of 147 facilities before the end of the year. took a walk around the city centre with Georgy Makeyev, winner of the Best Moscow Guide competition, and visited several houses slated for a soon-to-start overhaul.

Architect Latkov’s house

First is 6 2nd Troitsky Pereulok, located near the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity on former Troitskaya Sloboda. Since the early 17th century, this locality has been owned by the Trinity Lavra of St Sergius, Russia’s biggest monastery, which had a metochion there. This house was the work of Alexander Latkov, a staff architect at the Lavra. Later, after the Great Patriotic War (WWII) two storeys and lifts were added to the structure.


What distinguishes the house on 2nd Troitsky Pereulok is that it was rebuilt a whole lot of times.  It seriously needs a lot of work carried out on it as it’s been neglected and is plagued with things like leaking pipes and various other critical problems. It should have been done up a long time ago.  

Things like the plumbing and electrical wiring inside such memorial buildings are often quite a puzzle in their own right that needs to be unraveled. Engineers have to understand their general pattern and make-up and know the right way to go about dealing with all the hurdles.   

“Restoration jobs on cultural heritage sites have to be strictly carried out according to the plans that are drawn up. This guarantees that the original look and specific features are preserved.  After all this is why a place is put under government protection. It is necessary to keep a balance between the uniqueness and genuineness and the technological requirements of buildings,” head of Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage Alexei Yemelyanov said.

The technology and methods to be used during structural repairs on a house of architectural and historic interest are determined by a project plans drawn up  in strict conformity with the Subject of Protection document that states clearly what parts of the structure and décor must not be altered.  

The project plans have to be accepted, among others, by owners of flats and premises. They can state their desires and wishes, but these are disregarded, if they should interfere with the Subject of Protection plan. Plastic windows for example are not allowed in memorial structures, or the use a colour gamut in entrance halls other than the original tones, as specified in the Subject of Protection plan.

Any restoration job is coordinated with the Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage which guarantees the safe-keeping and integrity of a house and its Subject of Protection.  

After a project is approved, work can only get underway, if there are minutes of the general meeting held with the owners, who should give their consent to this or that kind of work being carried out.   It is also necessary to get permission from the Department of Cultural Heritage.

“The Structural Repairs Fund is paying close attention to residential buildings of architectural and historical interest. We really want to do them up very carefully indeed so that they preserve their original appearance for decades to come,” Sergei Krasnov, Head, Directorate for Cultural Heritage Sites, SRF, explained.

Former hotel on Petrovka Street

Second on the list is on the Boulevard Ring, where the towers and walls of the White City (Bely Gorod) had once been located.  The plot of land inside the walls was called “white,” because it was not liable to be taxed (unlike the “black” land of artisans and traders) and was owned by royals, boyars and nobles). The White City wall was dismantled after it lost its importance as a military fortification and boulevards were laid out on its site.

“Moscow’s boulevards have always throbbed with the city rhythms. The first to arrive in a boulevard early in the morning were watchmen with brooms, who woke up tramps sleeping on benches with clouds of dust they were raising.  Next, nannies went out for a walk with their charges and flocks of children headed for their schools. In the evening, the fashionable public would be seen sauntering along the boulevards. This was one of the most glamorous places in 19th-century Moscow,” Georgy Makeyev stressed.

Under an executive order issued by Emperor Paul I, hotels were built at the entrance to the city. 30/7 Petrovka Street is one of these former hotels. Only five of these have survived in the city. Almost all the buildings in this category were designed by the architect, Vasily Stasov. The house being prepared for structural repairs was originally a two-storey affair, with other levels added later.  

The ground floor houses shops and restaurants. In the Soviet period, there was a fish shop on the premises. During the past 50 years, fish establishments flourished in the area. Even today, there are three fish restaurants at the intersection of Strastnoy and Petrovsky boulevards.

The first and second floors house flats and offices. “It is hard to tell at first sight that the house has living quarters. The entrance hall is on the side,” Sergei Krasnov specifies.

Alexei Bakhrushin’s revenue properties 

In the 19th century, a whole lot of revenue houses were built on Petrovsky Pereulok for Moscow entrepreneur Alexei Bakhrushin.

“A revenue house is the same as a block of flats, the only difference being that flats were rented and could not be bought. This was quite common. If you wanted a flat, you had to buy the whole house. Anton Chekhov, Vladimir Gilyarovsky or Feodor Chaliapin never owned flats in revenue houses. They rented them,” Georgy Makeyev says.

Interestingly, the higher a flat was situated, the cheaper it was. Normally, the highest ceilings, the most fine-looking fireplaces and the richest stucco moulding were on the first and second floors of a revenue house. The flats on higher floors were more modest and cramped.

In the Soviet period, 5 Petrovsky Pereulok, Bldg.9 remained a residential house. One of its flats, for example, was rented by poet Anatoly Mariengof. Sergei Yesenin was his lodger between 1918 and 1923.  There is a memorial plaque to this effect on the façade of the building.

A structural repairs project for the house is yet to be finalised. According to surveyors it might be  some eight or nine months before the job can get going. The SRF will soon submit the project plans to the government expert review panel.


19th-century confectionary and beauty parlor

The next destination is 19 Petrovka Street, a revenue house built for merchant Korovin in the 19th century.  

Before the 1917 revolution, it housed the Einem chocolates, sweets and tea biscuits factory, currently the Red October confectionery factory. Today, there is a confectionary shop in its place, while the space under today’s supermarket was once a beauty parlor, known in its day as Master Ivan Andreyev’s barbershop.

The centrally located cultural heritage sites have few remaining residential flats, for it is more beneficial to use the areas for commercial purposes. But if a house has at least three flats, it is certain to be included in the structural repairs programme.

It may seem that 19 Petrovka Street does not need any repairs, for its façade is in apple-pie condition. But it is an illusion: the roof, the basement utilities, and the cellar need some serious work done on them. A structural repairs project is yet to be drawn up and experts are only just beginning to compile all the documents.

Revenue house in elite neighbourhood

The neighbouring building (20/1 Petrovka Street) at the intersection of Petrovka and Petrovskiye Liniyi Street awaits renovation as well. This part of the city has always been one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Moscow. Prof. Sofia Kovalevskaya, a famous scientist, once lived there and Moscow’s first car showroom was opened in the same location.

A structural repairs project for the house has been made and approved by the government expert review panel. There are plans to repair the roof, electrical wiring, plumbing, the heating system, and sewerage.  All kinds of work aside from electrical repairs will be done after the winter period.

Quite a complicated job to get permission to start on the work 


Despite its monument status, an overhaul of a house of this sort will take only slightly longer than an ordinary block of flats. For example, replacing water pipes and other utilities at a block of flats or a memorial building takes the same amount of time.

However, there are specific kinds of work that require a more meticulous approach. If a historical façade boasts rich décor, its renovation will last longer.  

Neither will proprietors have to pay much for the repairs. Moscow has imposed a single minimal contribution for structural repairs, which is the same for blocks of flats and cultural heritage sites. The amount of payment depends on the area of the premises, regardless of whether they are residential or commercial. The city shoulders the additional cost of renovation at historical buildings.

More than 8,000 blocks of flats have been done up under the structural repairs programme in Moscow, with another 4,500 buildings to be put in order within the next three years. The interactive map will indicate exactly where repairs are about to start. 

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