Since Catherine the Great: Moscow Imperial Orphanage restoration has begun

March 6

The restoration of the Moscow Imperial Orphanage, the largest building of the pre-revolutionary period, is beginning. Its ensemble includes six cultural heritage sites of federal significance, as well as eight buildings subject to reconstruction, but other than cultural heritage sites. Buildings are located at 9 Kitaygorodsky Passage.

“The complex of orphanage buildings on Moskvoretskaya Embankment was laid in 1764 under Catherine the Great. It is unique not only for its history, but for its location either. The house is situated on the bank of the Moskva River, in a single red line with the Kremlin. There are a skyscraper on Kotelnicheskaya Embankment and bridges further on. What makes it unusual is its size: it is the largest building in Moscow of the pre-revolutionary period. The length of the facade running along the embankment is 379 meters,” Alexei Yemelyanov, Head of Moscow Cultural Heritage Department said.

The department head also noted that this house was the most significant building of early classicism in Moscow. First of all, due to its scale and architectural details. The front facade is crowned with a spired belvedere making views from both Moskvoretsky and Yauzsky Bridges picturesque. The imposing building has been repeatedly depicted on postcards and souvenirs; it traditionally attracts the tourists’ attention.

Accident-prevention works are underway currently. The installation of supporting wooden structures inside the building has been completed, there have been metal bandages installed, as well as supporting wooden structures of windows; the building has been made cold-proof, underpinning works have begun.

In their workshops restorers continue working now on the preservation of 3.4 thousand orphanage fencing metal elements. They cleaned cast-iron parts, processed them, removed molds for the subsequent casting of lost elements. At the next stage, the central part, entrance gate, will be restored. They will re-paint the fence and adjoining gate-houses when the weather is warm.

In ensemble buildings, it is planned to perform brickwork mending, strengthen all structures, set cast-iron and ceramic tiles in order, and recreate lost decor fragments on facades and in interiors. The roof, all windows and doors, as well as the basement vaults will be restored.

Erecting special scaffolding designed specifically for the landmark building restoration has already begun. These are wedge-shaped scaffoldings, they will allow specialists to adapt to the facade geometry. Installation is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2021.

All works are carried out exclusively within assignments and permits issued. Mosgornasledie(Moscow Cultural Heritage Department) ensures strictly that the work is carried out with high quality and corresponds to the design documentation.

After restoration, the complex of buildings is planned to be adapted for current needs.

The Moscow Imperial Orphanage was laid in 1764 as a charitable teaching and educational institution for unparented children. Its creation was initiated by Ivan Betskoy, a Russian educator, personal secretary of Empress Catherine the Great. In accordance with the "General Plan" drawn up by Betskoy, Vasilievsky Lug, a plot of land between Solyanka and the Moskva River, was handed over for construction.

The complex of buildings was designed by Karl Blank - one of last Baroque masters and the first architect of early classicism in Russia. The ensemble is distinguished by a complex spatial pattern of facades with their setting external simplicity and flatness.

According to Karl Blanc’s project, the house was supposed to consist of three closed square-buildings with extensive courtyards. The main building and the western square were built in the XVIII century, but the eastern square was erected only in the 1960s on the initiative of Joseph Loveiko, a Soviet architect.

In the XVIII-XX centuries, the orphanage complex continued to be expanded and completed. In 1812, house servants staying in Moscow occupied by the French army to care for orphans, saved the main building from a fire, although Kitay-Gorod has been almost completely destroyed.

After the revolution, the buildings were transferred to trade union institutions. The Palace of Labor that opened here is described in the "12 Chairs" novel by Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov as the House of Peoples. From 1938 to 2016, the complex first housed the Felix Dzerzhinsky Artillery Academy of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, and then the Peter the Great Military Academy of Strategic Missile Forces.


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