Small candy bowls on the facade and honeycombs on the windows. How is the Abrikosovs' house restoration going on

September 10

The facade of the Abrikosovs' house at Malaya Krasnoselskaya Street is known throughout this country. It is this mansion that is depicted on the packaging of chocolate, familiar to everyone since childhood. However, few have seen the inside of the Art Nouveau style building constructed in 1902. The stained glass plafond and windows, wrought iron railings and patterned parquet, fireplace and paintings on the frieze make just a short list of elements that adorn the interiors.

A comprehensive restoration of the Abrikosov’s house is nowunderway. About 10 people are busy with the project — five architects-restorers and a group of engineers, and several dozen are working on the site. It is planned to complete the restoration by the end of 2022, and thereafter the building will be reopened to Moscow residents.

Red brick to pale olive

The two-story mansion was built by Boris Shnaubert, one of the Moscow Art Nouveau representatives, by order of the merchant Alexey Ivanovich Abrikosov. The corner bay window overhanging the main entrance became the center of the composition, and beneath the second floor windows one can see curved stucco details shaped as small candy bowls. The facade plasticity characteristic for Art Nouveau, is emphasized by a fence with wrought-iron wavy elements on the building roof.


The restorers specified that 14-15 layers had to be removed from each facade detail in order to see the original color. The building is almost 120 years old, and only the first 20 of them it had the olive color. By the way, the walls in the house will also be painted in shades of green, as was originally intended by the project’s author.


The main restoration works of the facades was completed at the end of last year.

Photo by Yulia Ivanko,

Honeycombs on the windows and a picturesque plafond on the ceiling

The restoration of the house interiors is in full swing now, so the interior decoration is still difficult to evaluate. The floors are covered with plywood, walls are waiting for restoration of the original plaster and painting, and stained-glass windows are not yet returned to their place. Experts say that the restored five bay windows on the second floor will be installed by the end of the year. They are decorated with honeycomb-shaped glasses of pink and honey shades.

But even such working environment gives idea of the Art Nouveau features. A semi-spiral staircase with smooth wrought iron railings and stone steps leads to the second floor where the owners' dwelling was located. It also has a stained-glass window with a small part lost. It has yet to be restored.

A small balcony with metlakh tiles on the floor was made in front of the front door entrance (the floor is also still covered with plywood).

“A very beautiful decoration made of metlakh tiles survived to this day in good condition, it will be restored, and the lost elements will be recreated. It is assumed that it was musicians’ place when balls were held in the ceremonial enfilades,” Alena Kazarova says.

The living room will see restoration of a fireplace that was painted with a special kind of fresco painting (painting plaster as stone), and a stained glass 3.2 meters diameter plafond will be installed in the neighboring room. It took the restorers six months to restore it. Now a casual glance will not make a difference between the stained-glass elements restored and those recreated by experts.


We also managed to restore the brass locking mechanisms on the windows. Only handles survived to this day, the rest were recreated by experts. It is yet necessary to install the second glazing line on the front facade and restore the courtyard facade windows. The restoration of oak parquet is underway in the facility interiors, with the parquet having unique pattern in each room, and other works include the restoration of plaster decor, walls, floors made of metlakh tiles, forged and brass items and other interior elements.

Pleasant surprises happen in the course of work too. The restoration revealed painting on the frieze around the place where the plafond was installed. It is cleared for further study and restoration.

“The building is lucky to some extent. This is a closed territory of the factory, and only employees could get here. The building contained offices, a cardboard shop, and a washing room on the ground floor. People treated the building with care. We came and saw the excellent state of the facility preservation. Such conservation saved this building,” Roman Romanov says.

The owner, who is restoring the house at his own expense, intends to open a memorial for Moscow residents. The restorers are confident that this gives the second life for cultural heritage sites.

“The building owners are deciding what will be here. It is going to be either an educational and training center or a confectionery training cluster for children,” Alena Kazarova says.

From sugar-coated fruits to a confectionary empire

The Abrikosov dynasty was started by former serf Stepan Nikolaevich in 1804. He made sugar-coated fruits, and jams, pastille and marmalade. The business was continued by his sons, but not entirely successfully. The grandson of Stepan Nikolayevich, Alexey Abrikosov, managed to return former glory to the family. He, and his sons thereafter, turned the enterprise into one of the most famous confectionery factories. The partnership of A.I. Abrikosov's  sons became one of the three largest Russian confectionery manufacturers, and in 1899 got the title of “A Supplier of the Court of His Imperial Majesty.” The company was nationalized 20 years later, after the revolution. The enterprise was renamed into the P.A.Babaev factory in 1922.

“The main facade of this cultural heritage site is familiar to each of us since childhood because it is depicted on the Babaevsky candy wrappers, and for all lovers of history and architecture of our beloved city this building is associated with the confectionery dynasty of the Abrikosovs. We know that Stepan Nikolayevich Abrikosov, the founder of this dynasty, and his descendants, including Alexey Ivanovich, his grandson and the customer of this house, turned a small confectionery production into one of the leaders of the confectionery industry,” Alexey Emelyanov adds.


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