GlavUpDK under MFA of Russia has completed the overhaul of the building, with some reconstruction and the restoration of the facade, roofs, railings and interiors of the I.A. Mindovsky Mansion, at 44/2 Povarskaya Street, buildings 1 and 2.
This group of buildings and estate dates back to 1903-4, and was built by the famous architect L.N. Kekushev and is considered one of the best examples of Moscow Art Nouveau. The mansion is best known by the name of its onetime owner - I.A. Mindovsky - a major textile magnate from the Upper Volga Region. The building was at one time the residence of the Swedish ambassador, and it later served as the New Zealand Embassy.
“GlavUpDK is a special entity established to serve the diplomatic corps, and for the last 98 years it has worked to ensure that foreign diplomats posted to Russia have a comfortable stay in the country. GlavUpDK manages over 150 mansions. The majority of these, including this building, are cultural heritage objects. Our organisation also carries out commercial activities, and uses the funds from renting out mansions to foreign diplomatic missions in order to repair these buildings and restore them to their original appearance.
For example, the restoration of the Mindovsky Mansion cost approximately 350 million roubles. As a result of this investment we have been able to bring back the beauty of this building, as a gift to Russia’s capital. Each year GlavUpDK includes some large-scale restoration projects in its schedule of activities. This year, in addition to the Mindovsky Mansion, we also completed the restoration of the mansion at 10 Leontovsky Lane. And in 2018 we were awarded a prize from the Moscow Government for organising the repair and restoration of the mansion at 21 Ostozhenka Street, also designed by Lev Kekushev,” said Sergey Yurievich Makarov, Head of the GlavUpDK under MFA of Russia.
S.Yu. Makarov also stated that after the completion of all the work on the mansion it will once again become the home of the New Zealand Embassy, which was based here before the restoration began.
“The Ivan Mindovsky Mansion, designed by the great architect Lev Kekushev, is a real masterpiece of Art Nouveau. As part of a comprehensive restoration that has taken more than two and a half years, the work on the building’s facades is complete, and in the main interior areas the original colour schemes and decoration have been restored. Special attention has been paid to detail: elements that have been restored include the unique stained glass windows, the lamp in the Winter Garden, the light fittings, door handles, an original radiator from 1903 and many other elements which add up to create the building’s unique atmosphere. One important achievement has been the restoration of the painting of the muses, based on historic photographs. After 70 years, it has finally been returned to the roof of the building,” said Alexey Emelyanov, the Head of the Moscow Department for Cultural Heritage.
As a result of the repair and restoration work carried out by GlavUpDK’s specialists and designers from TsNPM FSUE, together with a specially assembled team, the complex of buildings on Povarskaya Street has been returned to its original appearance.
According to experts, the fact that the building had been carefully used and undergone regular repair work meant that, before the major renovation began, the building was in a satisfactory condition and preserved many of its original elements.
As a result of historical and cultural research, including studies of archive photographs, documents, and plans, and the use of the architect’s models of the building, which still survive, the building has been returned to its original, early 20th Century layout - including the Monier vaults in the cellar of one of the outbuildings, and lost elements of the interiors and facades. The elements restored include the unique facades with their abundant and expressive decoration, the wrought-iron fences and carriage and pedestrian gates, and the elaborate roof.
During their work the restoration specialists made an interesting discovery. When they removed the false ceilings- a later addition to the building - they discovered - and then restored - the original ceiling mouldings - in a different style in each room - as well as a large painting and a stained glass window. The interiors were returned to their original colour schemes, and where traces of gilding were observable, this was restored. The specially-designed oak parquet on the second floor was restored. Also restored were the historic light fittings (including the chandelier above the main staircase, and the many candelabras and lamps, as well as the unique girandoles which greet guests at the main entrance), the carved bas-reliefs with their many figures, which depict scenes from antiquity, and the grand main staircase, which is absolutely unique: made of marble, it has zinc alloy railings, decorated with lion masks and pieces of onyx. And in the dining room, the details restored include the ceiling light fitting, with its spot lighting and central painted panneau, representing a typically Art Nouveau subject.
Particularly worthy of mention is the work that has been done on the mansion’s stained glass windows. The giant stained glass window in the dining room, which had been seriously damaged in the first half of the XX Century, was repaired. After being cleaned and reassembled, the stained glass windows of the main stairway and the vestibule once again fill visitors with a sense of wonder.
And during the inspection of the mansion’s conservatory, two more long hidden features were discovered: a suspended metal ceiling incrusted with cabochons in various colours, forming a complex design, and, behind several layers of plaster, paint and wallpaper, a wall decoration formed of glazed blue tiles.
“It seems that this winter garden was home to palms and potted fruit trees - which were very popular at the end of the XIX and the beginning of the XX Centuries, and were an essential feature in any well-appointed Moscow mansion,” said Boris Grigorievich Loginov, Merited Architect of the Russian Federation, and the Chief Planner of the restoration project.
One important event for anyone who appreciates Moscow’s architecture was the replacement of the sculptural composition that originally graced the building’s south facade, but was lost in the 1920s Sculptures like this are very unusual in Moscow: it is large - three metres tall - and represents the Muse of painting, holding a palette and brush in her hands, together with two children. This group was recreated using graphic construction methods, based on archive materials, as well as other types of research.
The building’s chimneys and chimney caps were also restored, based on archive photographs. A wrought iron awning featuring motifs from the mansion’s interior decoration was erected above the service entrance, on the building’s north facade. The specialists also recreated the long-lost balcony on the north facade and restored the marble arch of the main entrance, immediately underneath the balcony.
As a result of the work, including the installation of modern technology and equipment, the complex now meets all the applicable rules and regulations, and is safe, comfortable and all the systems are convenient to operate.
The repair and restoration work was based on technical planning documentation developed in accordance with the assignment issued by Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage of Moscow and the relevant Preservation Order. The restoration project was carried out in compliance with the demands of the Federal Law On Cultural Heritage Objects (Historical and Cultural Monuments) of the Peoples of the Russian Federation”, and, following a historical and cultural expert review, was awarded a positive rating.