The area where 4 Slavyanskaya Square is situated has had several names, the oldest of which is Kulishki. Though the Russian phrase for ‘the boonies’ is similar to Kulishki – and actually quite fitting – the two words are not connected. According to legend, demons used to roam the area, moaning around at night and sometimes even attacking older women. The building itself at 4 Slavyanskaya Square was built by the incredibly popular Russian architect Nikolay Zherikhov, who was in high demand at the time. Zherikhov was a recognized expert in Art Nouveau and the mastermind behind the extravagant commercial apartment buildings on the central streets of Moscow.
The Shabolovka complex was built in the first part of the 19th century as a silk factory. Its owner was Petr Goujon, a Frenchman who ate the local pigeons and flogged his female workers for their misdemeanours. In Soviet days the building acquired a statue of Dzerzhinsky and the nickname ‘Shpul’ka’ (bobbin).
Time and neglect have taken their toll on what was once a beautiful estate at Khitrovka. The architectural finery is lost along with a third of its territory. All that is left are memories of a rich and colourful history. The poet Fyodor Tyutchev spent his childhood here and later Mayakovsky and Erenburg were inmates in a prison on the site. Sofia Kuvshinnikova - the prototype for the heroine of Chekhov’s story The Grasshopper lived here with her husband. This article in the series on the history behind HSE looks at the complex on Khitrovka.
The former guesthouse of the Stroganov Academy is hardly visible from Myasnitskaya Ulitsa, although it deserves a close glance. This place once held the enormous estate of Baron Stroganov, a confidant of Empress Elizabeth. Nearly a hundred years later, his distant relative founded the first free drawing school, which later became the famous Stroganov School.
The main story about this place begins not in the distant time when it was owned by merchants (although it certainly was) but in the 1930s when the construction of a new institute began. The name of the lane itself changed from Bolshoy Tryokhsvyatitelsky (after the church of the three holy bishops - Tryoksvyatiteli na Kulishakh - nearby) to Bolshoy Vuzovski.
This new column 'HSE. Cornerstone' is about the history of the buildings the university occupies today. The first article is about number 8 Pokrovsky Boulevard which at various times has been a famous girl’s gymnasium, the apartment of the animalist painter Stepanov, and the editorial offices of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.