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The City Peasant's House


In Petrozavodsk there is not too many buildings that became the card of the capital of Karelia. They are the ensemble of the Round Square, hotel "Severnaya", "Kuusinen's Palace", the main post office building... And among the wooden buildings there are the building of "Karelles" opposite to "Severnaya" and, certainly, - the former Peasant's House on Gogl str., 6. This log tower as they used to sayr, "characterizes the city". Now, when the object is literally "near death" after the fire in September, many have paid attention to it and have become interested in its destiny. It is almost the eve of its anniversary: March 14 the final design approval of the Peasant's House (PH) has turned 75 years.

National construction has failed

The house is nominally V.I.Lenin's monument. I.e. after the death of the leader N.K.Krupskaia has advised the work people of Karelia not to install the "cold idol" (in due course her advice had been ignored all the same), but the socially useful building embodying one of the basic Lenin's precepts. Actually, it was not the original offer inverted particularly to the capital of the AKSSR. The action was all-Russian, and the country was supposed to become covered by the network of Peasant's Houses. In two years more than two hundred cities, without counting Moscow, have already got such buildings. Only in August 1926 Karelia could summon its strength and has appointed the competitive commission to design the PH.

Its basic purpose was to give temporary shelter to peasants carrying their surplus production in the city for free sale (it has been period of NEP (New Economic Policy)!) and wishing to get manufactured goods, seeds and breeding cattle. The ideology of creation of the network of such Houses was based on Lenin's precept to make of the muzhik (the Russian peasant) the cultural owner. For this purpose it was supposed to provide visitors with not only hotel rooms: 5 rooms for 6 persons each and 5 rooms for 4 persons, each, but also library and lecture hall. Additionally it was necessary to provide an agricultural pavilion, two stables for 30 horses, a canopy for carts, a shed for exhibitions and other household buildings. Taking into account all-Karelian value of the construction and constant shortage of money in the republican budget, the government has tried to collect at least half of means due to donations. But the widely massive campaign has brought so insignificant results that they have decided to count only budgetary financing.

Neighboring the Lutheran church

By the beginning of 1927 the commission has already summed up the results. The first place and the premium of 800 roubles has won the project of the citizen of Leningrad P.M.Rozenbluma.

What has attracted the commission in his project? Basically it was the splendid light and shade game on the main facade of the timbered building stylized like traditional wooden buildings of the Russian North. For all this the author was forgiven even too abrupt roof visually pressing the facade, irrationality decorative small balcony (widespread, by the way, in Northern Russian architecture), open to snow and rain, and other minor defects.

The Russian antique stylization has frankly appeared to be in the contradiction full with Gothic lancet windows of the Lutheran church, which stood near the building site and by then already became the property of the state. Therefore, the problem had been solved "surgically", having moved the church a hundred meters deeper into the garden and having turned the facade to Zakamenskaya str. (nowadays shop "Country-color"). The design stage was completed on March 14, 1927. The turn of the construction has come traditionally compared to the Russian way of movement when they take long time harnessing, but ride quickly.

Help of GULAG and participation of Myshev the master

Being educated in the European style the government of the AKSSR wanted PH to possess even elementary convenience, i.e. plumbing and sanitary that in Petrozavodsk was present, perhaps, only in provincial hospital. Security officers have advised to address directly in MSCSA (Management of Solovetsky camps of special assignment) to comrade Naftuliy Frenkel. There are (imprisoned) all kinds of experts who cheaply will make the project and will mount the equipment. The answer has amazed with the figure making almost a quarter of the budgetary estimate. They have tried then the enterprise "Hydraulics" in Leningrad, the joint-stock company "Heating and Power": everywhere it was expensive, too.

Rashly they have decided even to exclude the waterpipe, the water drain and the central heating, but then all the same have thought again and have concluded the contract with "Hydraulics". Simply with a view of economy they have decided, for example, to put not three, but one coating of drying oil on the floors, to ceil with usual deal board instead of shaped, and finish drying of the battens quickly. The PH was built by "drastic" carpenters, who by two artels have arrived from Galich the Kostroma regions. Therefore, the felling itself was stacked very qualitatively, as has been confirmed by the recent inspection of the experts in restoring. Logs were not only carefully hewn in the butt parts, but also beard "in a ring" as it was written down in the document (being expressed by the modern language - cylindered). Participation of the legendary M.K.Myshev, the hero of the "Kizhi stories" by V.Pulkina, as the head of the artel was not confirmed documentary. Even if he participated in construction of the PH, then rather on supporting roles as his small artel at that time specialized on joining and repair works in apartments of heads of the AKSSR.

The House though with subquality work, had been put in commission on March 11, 1929, two years after the constructions was started, and transferred on its balance all hotel utensils from transient PH in the house of members of higher orders of clergy (nowadays the House of officers).

Why does the peasant need a water closet?

Literally at the second day it became clear that 63 places for lodgers do not satisfy even a quarter of true needs. Frequently up to 150 persons were stacked on a lodging for the night on the floor in the lecture hall there. The kitchen and a dining room did not cope with wishful crowd, which took seat for tables in caps and fur coats, smoked makhorka, stole forks and spoon for souvenirs took, and treated the servants excessively considerately. There was no place to leave clothes and knapsacks, and without supervision they were pilfered by the merciless swindlers, whom there were plenty at that time.

The yard of the PH quickly had began to be used for absolutely not cultural and educational purposes. There was a water closet for three places available in the house, but only the employees of the House could use it (the water drain, by the way, it was removed through a primitive sediment bowl directly into Lososinka river). It is possible to imagine what at all very secluded corners of the territories looked like. At once there has risen a question on construction of a hostel for at least 150 places.

The idea of the Peasant's House by the end of its construction already appeared to be irrelevant. NEP was replaced by the period of collectivization, which has put forward other tasks based on principles of nationalization of agricultural production. The general line now was different - to drive upwards the interest of collectivization.

Why the writer Paustovsky refused to stay in the PH

Even officials already hesitated to call the Peasant's House by Lenin's name. It has begun to live its every day life, which suited only the most unpretentious visitors of Petrozavodsk. Library and the lecture hall have been squeezed together or used on completely different purpose that has increased capacity of the PH by 20 places.

A young writer Konstantin Paustovsky, who has arrived in 1932 could stand the stay in the House just for one day. For all that he very much liked it in its outward appearance - the Moscow visitor has marked originality of the architectural plan and quality of its realization. But barracks density of various people so oppressed him that the rest of the week related to search of a material for his future book about Onega Plant Paustovsky has spent in the other place. For this reason the visitors coming to the capital of Karelia from Moscow, Leningrad or from abroad stopped in departmental numbers or in the apartments of the leading comrades.

For the first half-year of 1933 the Petrozavodsk Peasant's House has receive in total about 2 thousand collective farmers and about 200 sole proprietors. But it has sheltered about four thousand Soviet office workers sent on business, almost one thousand of them were from outside of the republic. I.e. it carried out functions of the most usual hotel. The similar metamorphosis has happened with the others PH in Russia.

Petrozavodsk Peasant's House with the beginning of the Soviet-Finnish war had been transferred under the jurisdiction of the people's commissariat of defense. By this time construction of new city hotel for 200 places had been achieved in Petrozavodsk, thus the PH as the house of visitors was not necessary. After the war the Karelian-Finnish Drama Theatre and then a philarmonic society were located there...

Has burned at work

Our former Peasant's House has burnt on September 11, the day of air attack of New York. And attempt against the PH is in the number of the whole series of arsons in the center of Petrozavodsk. The part of the building rented at the center of National Creativity by the owners of the bar due to which, they speak, the real owners of the building (the Ministry of Culture) made ends meet, has lit up. If the flame has burnt the house up to the basis, its destiny would be solved unequivocally: to clear the place away and construct something very necessary and modern. Indeed, the place is very attractive being located in city center and on spacious picturesque coast of Lososinka. But the building is just partly destroyed by fire, therefore the discussion about its future has become prolonged.

In brief the position of architects, artists, historians and regional specialists is the following. It is impossible to lose such wooden ornament to city. But no money is expected for its restoration, too. They offer the following way out. Let the house along with the land be exhibited for sale. But the one who purchases it should build the office (restaurant, club, hotel, etc.) with preservation of the ex-terrier, i.e. appearance of the building of the period of 1929. At this particular time the house represented the most organic realization of the architectural plan of its author.

Let the internal lay-out be of any kind, let them fill the house with the first class modern equipment, but keep its original appearance, dear future owners! Because whatever were the failures in use of the unique building within all years of its history, it is valuable for us by the unique original shape. No modern and strong building on its place will ever fill the loss of neatly realized tower in the national architectural style.

Nickolai Kutkov


Created November 16, 2000
Last Updated June 17, 2003
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