Within the time, the look of our capital changes inevitably. Some places are already unrecognizable, but they are still in silent waiting for further fate:  to be restored, demolished or rebuilt? And nobody can answer these questions? Places get abandoned, but keep remind us about our past - various and always important. ForUm has visited a number of interesting but threatened places of Kyiv and recalled how they looked before.

Mansion of Michelson with wings

This beautiful mansion is located on Pushkinska st. 35-37. A part of it is fenced with high wall and barbed wire in the inner yard. However, even the fence cannot hide fine elaboration of the foreside and elegant mascaron of female face above the entrance. 

In 1896, one of the richest Kyiv residents of the beginning of XX century Friedrich Gustavovich Michelson erected in different time two adjacent three-storey facade buildings and two wings behind. Interestingly, foresides of the wings turned out to be more beautiful than the facade buildings. The elaborations were made in Renaissant-baroque style. The buildings were used as commercial dwelling, but a part of the premises was occupied by the Regional Assaying Inspectorate.

At the beginning of XX century, Peasant land bank rented a part of the mansion, and in 1941-42 Ukrainian secret service agent Ivan Kudrya lived in the apartment #14. Together with Maria Gruzdova, he organized a safe house for a resistance group, which included Raisa Okipnaya.

Among other famous residents of the mansion, there were geologist Petr Armashevski, physicist Nicolai Shiller, Doctor Grigoriy Malkov, zoologist Aleksey Severtsov, actor and director Isaak Duvan-Tortsov, philologist-Sanskritist Friedrich Knauer. 

The complex of buildings is now a private property and is falling to decay. According to the sad tradition, a new multi-storey residential complex may be built on this place soon. 

Residential house on Mykhailisvka Street

Covered with a huge street banner, house #10 on Mykhailisvka Street was built back in 1870 inside the mansion of the couple Bordashenko. In 1897 the foreside of the building was rebuilt and the third floor was added, according to the project of architect Nikolai Kazanski. Kyiv journalist Mikhail Kiseliov lived on the second floor after reconstruction. His close friend, writer Aleksandr Kuprin, used to visit him regularly.

Among other guests of Kiseliov there was than student and future world famous philosopher Nikolai Berdiayev. Artists of drama theatre "Solovtsov" and choir of Ukrainian youth headed by Mykola Lysenko used to perform at home concerts.

In 1906, the house hosted editorial offices of Ukrainian editions, being printed in Kyiv after the long ban on printed Ukrainian language. Lesya Ukrainka, Mykhailo Kotsubynski, Voloymyr Vynnychenko, Arhip Teslenko, Borys  Hrynchenko and Lubov Yanovska used to publish their works there.

However, in August of 1906 the editorial office on the second floor was raided by police officers. When officers found illegal Ukrainian brochures and leaflets in the table of deputy editor of "Gromadska dumka" the office was sealed and editions were closed.

The house has not been restored for many years and now is waiting for its inevitable death: the front wall holds up only with the help of external metal construction and can collapse at any moment.

"House with snakes" on Zhytomyrska Street

Ancient mansion on Bolshaya Zhytomyrska, 32 is decorated with stone snakes and fretted chestnut leaves. This beautiful building in the style of decorated modern was constructed in 1911-12 by famous Kyiv architect Ignatiy Ledokhovskiy  and used as commercial three-apartment house. The house belonged to the noblewoman Chokolova. After 1945 the fourth floor was added and many mythological figures were destroyed. Within time, new tenants destroyed inner interior - ancient tile stoves and original interior decorations. Fretted chestnut leaves and stone snakes represent Ledokhovski vision of the legend about the Fall from Old Testament.

According to "historical rumors" the house was presented to Chokolova by her rich lover, thus the theme of the Fall is explainable.

In 1990ies, the premises of the "House with snakes" were rented, but then the building was closed and later auctioned to a private firm. The house is on the list of architectural monuments, but due to mismanagement starts to decay.

Mansion of Murashko

Mansion of Murashko includes one-storey mansion, three-storey commercial house #14 and two-story wing (#14B) on Mala Zytomyrska Street, now liberally covered with graffiti. The mansion was built in the middle of XIX century, and in 1895 was bought by merchant Aleksandr Murashko. In several years, his stepson - future famous artist Aleksandr Murashko, arranged the workshop in the house. In these walls he created his masterpieces. Apart from the workshop, the mansion hosted artist's apartments, shop and apartments for rent. In 1914, the artist sold the mansion and moved. After Murashko's moving, the mansion hosted icon workshop for some years and the Culture House of the blind and the society of fire insurance in 1930ies.

Nowadays, the mansion has been through a lot. At some point the city handed the mansion to a private investor, who promised to restore the building. After four years of hopeless waiting, the buildings started to decay. The mansion returned in the communal property of the capital. Since then the buildings with broken windows keep decaying. Last month the upper ceiling of one of the buildings fell down.

Castle of Baron Steingel

Such name belongs to the mansion on Vorovskogo Street, 27. The house used to belong to railway engineer Baron Rudolph Steingel, who lived there from 1877 to 1892. Steingel was born into an old aristocratic family of Russianised Germans. Johann von Steingel was Minister to the Elector of Saxony and his sons left to serve in Russia. Under Catherine I, one of the Steingels was a General. The Baron purchased an ordinary mansion and decided to reconstruct it into a gothic knight castle.

At that time the building was surrounded with an English-style park with walkways, flowerbeds, fountains, lakes and black swans. In 1901 the family estate was bought by neurologist Mykhailo Lapynsky who turned it into his medical clinic and physiotherapeutic sanatorium.

In 1976-81 the property was roughly divided into two sides, the middle part was destroyed and a huge Soviet clinic building of industrial style was put instead. 

Almost no traces of beauty have remain till nowadays, only initials "RS" after Rudolf Steingel. The castle is a sad example of "failed to save but managed to disfigure".

Government summerhouse of the Communist Party of the USSR

An unusual abandoned structure (actual address: Pobeda avenue, 82G) can be found in Nyvky park. Only some abandoned fountains and finely paved driveways still remind about its gone luxury. In 1859, the land was given to governor general Illarion Vasilchikov for "merits for country". During his government he carried out the construction of the first main suspension bridge across Dnipro, opening of the monument to Prince Vladimir, construction of the road to Zhytomyr. 

After his death, governor's wife Kateryna gave the land to Ionovski monastery in 1863. In 1912, a stone Church of the Holy Sign-painter and female hermitage were built on the land.

During soviet times, the land was taken by the authorities and fenced. The church was demolished and a new government summer complex, including two residential houses, a diner and stables, was built. The place changed its unofficial name many times - Lubchenko's house, Kaganovych's house, Khrushchev's house...They say, Panas Lubchenko shot his wife and then himself in this very house. The special residence existed till 1962, then its territory was given to the city, renamed into "Park of XXII congress of Communist Party" and opened for public. One building was reconstructed into children cinema, sport section and recording studio. The diner became the workshop for artists. Another residential building was reconstructed into concert hall for Kyiv union of musical ensembles. In 1972 the park was renamed into "Nyvky park". In early 90ies, the complex was sold to private investors, who started renovation but have never finished.

Now, the former government house is totally destroyed and is a shelter for homeless people. The owner is unknown.

Why don't we keep our history and let it die together will fragile walls? Lack of money or its redundance? In the modern world, it is cheaper to build new than to maintain old. It's enough to wait a little and ancient walls will fall by themselves, and someone can start a new business on the ruins of history. The question is whether the history will forgive us this.

Anastasia Pika, photos by Maxim Trebukhov


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