One of the brightest architectural gems of Moscow can surely be called the mansion of Savva Morozov on Spiridonovka. It was built for the young wife of the famous merchant-patron of the arts as a symbol of their love, but eventually he witnessed the breakup of a once happy family. But nowadays this building has a completely different role – a political one.
Beautiful and romantic
Having bought a plot of land on Spiridonovka from the writer’s brother Sergei Aksakov, Savva Morozov demolished the old building, built in the style of the Moscow Empire. The house was interesting, the work of the remarkable architect Vitberg, and, moreover, with its own history: at one time Pushkin, Gogol stayed with one of its first owners, the poet and politician I. Dmitriev. However, a successful merchant and his wife found the building unnecessarily simple. In his place, Morozov decided to build something elegant, fashionable and at the same time regal. One of the richest merchants of Russia, who had a chance to visit England and become well acquainted with its architecture, was fascinated by the romance of medieval castles. He wanted to build something similar in Moscow for his beloved wife Zinaida Grigorievna.
Their marriage at that time was considered ideal in terms of fervor of feelings, but outrageous in terms of public morality. Savva Morozov laid eyes on the 17-year-old Zinaida while she was not attending her wedding with his nephew Sergei Vikulovich, the owner of the manufactory in Nikolsky. The feelings turned out to be mutual, and soon the merchant magnate and the young wife of Sergey Morozov began to meet in secret. As a result, she decided to divorce and officially married her lover, however, the Old Believer community did not approve of the union of Savva Morozov and the young “dowry-free wiring”.
House on Spiridonovka thought for her. But who could be entrusted with such an important project? Of course, the 33-year-old architect Fyodor Shekhtel. At that time, he was already a famous architect, who had built many buildings for rich merchants, and had designed a beautiful country house for Morozov himself. A serious order from Savva Timofeevich (by the way, until that moment all Shekhtel’s projects were more modest) aroused great interest among the ambitious architect. Fyodor Shekhtel immediately offered the owners three projects developed in different styles – Renaissance, Rococo and English neo-Gothic. Morozov, of course, chose Neogothic, which was so close to him, and Shekhtel created an incredibly beautiful castle-house, bringing to it also light romanticism and spirituality of modernity.
It was decided to locate the mansion at a short distance from the so-called red line and connect it with an underground passage with an additional building that housed utility rooms, including a power station, a laundry room and a glacier. All the work was controlled by Zinaida herself, and often these or other architectural solutions were created with her direct participation.
The house of Savva Morozov turned out to be both romantic, majestic, and modern at that time. Tower-shaped buildings, arches of an elegant porch, battlements, carved vaults and fantastic characters on the facade – all this refers us to the times of medieval knights. There is no strict symmetry here, which makes the building even more unusual and mysterious.
Nevertheless, the building looks somewhat modest in comparison with some of the outrageous merchant mansions of those years (to recall at least Arseny Morozv’s house by architect Mazyrin), but this modesty is perceived as high taste and a sense of proportion.
And, besides, the grand interiors of the mansion more than compensate for the sense of severity that can mistakenly arise when looking at this very interesting building. They are incredibly elegant and original.
Antique furniture like created for royals. Interestingly, almost all of it, as well as wood trim, were made in the furniture factory of a relative, Zinaida Grigorievna, P.A. Schmidt.