Mysterious terem house on Yakimanka, built by a disgraced merchant and a tangerine planter
The mansion of the merchant Igumnov is one of the most beautiful and mysterious buildings in modern Moscow. First, it is not so easy to get into it, because it houses the residence of the ambassador of France. Secondly, there are incredible rumors and legends about this house. Thirdly, his “teremochny” look with a huge amount of bright decorative elements and unique details evokes thoughts of magic and brings it to a fairy tale.
The merchant wanted to hit the whole of Moscow
The owner of the largest textile enterprise (Yaroslavl Large Manufactory) and gold mines, the richest merchant Nikolai Igumnov built this stone house in a very under-prestigious and remote area of Moscow at the end of Yakimanka Street at the end of the 19th century.
According to one version, the choice of a site for building a rich house in such a strange place was due to the fact that the merchant grew up in these parts (although most of his life, as we know, was spent in Yaroslavl), but this is only a hypothesis.
The merchant demolished the old wooden house that was standing on the purchased plot. The project of the new building commissioned by Igumnov worked Yaroslavl architect Nikolai Pozdeev. As a result, he created a true architectural masterpiece, which we now have the opportunity to admire. However, the Moscow society of that time considered the house not modern and even vulgar.
The new building erected here successfully fit into the landscape – it was well combined with the Empire style mansions standing on Yakimanka, even though it was a little taller and differed from them in a more luxurious and intricate look.
The unusual roofs of the house make it look like the Old Russian chambers, the facades are amazingly festive – here you can find brickwork from specially brought brick from Holland, and amazing natural stone decoration, and interesting tiles in the “Yaroslavl” style, made at the Kuznetsova factory (the artist’s ceramist S Maslennikov). In addition, the best carvers were involved in the work. In general, it turned out fabulously rich tower.
Domestic interiors were no less elegant – by the order of the owner they were made in a style combining Russian traditions and classicism with themselves, which was fashionable at that time. By the way, the interior was finished by the architect’s brother Ivan (Nikolai Pozdeyev died in 1893, without having seen his project in full.
In 1901, Nicholas II expelled Igumnov to Abkhazia, and the owner of the mansion never returned to the capital. In 1917, the house, like all merchant mansions, was nationalized.
Truth and fiction about Nikolai Igumnov
The merchant of the 1st guild, a well-known benefactor and, as they would say in our time, oligarch Nikolai Igumnov is an interesting, mysterious and even legendary personality. Firstly, it is believed that it was Igumnov who brought tangerines to Abkhazia. But this story should start with another story – Igumnov’s link to the Caucasus, which became the reason.
One day, wanting to hit Moscow society with his luxury, the merchant arranged a chic evening in his house with a ball and for the “steepness” forest scattered gold coins all over the floor.