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The series of descriptions of historic buildings in Moscow owned by HSE concludes with this account of what was once School Number 135 in Maly Gnezdnikovsky Pereulok. This was considered an exemplary institution, and the finest teachers in the region taught there. Of course, the schoolchildren’s behavior was not always exemplary – and one incident even forced the Headmaster to resign.
For several hundred years Izmailovo Manor belonged to the imperial court. Russian tsars and their attendants hunted in the surrounding groves, and the area received the official status of the Moscow region after the revolution. Eventually factories and workers' settlements would be erected in place of the area’s trees and swamps. One of these factories was not like the others; it produced not machines or equipment, but answers to a number of questions.
The large holding that extends from Bolshaya Lubyanka along Sretensky Pereulok to Milyutinsky Pereulok, including the territory of present No. 13, belonged to the Brigadier D.S. Poretsky in the middle of the 18th century. Most what took place in the holding was nearer to Bolshaya Lubyanka. Milyutinsky Pereulok contained the unsightly back side of the estate.
During the years of Lenin's New Economic Policy (NEP), this building housed Moscow's most fashionable institution, The Centre for the Development of the New Soviet Attire. The vast window displays were populated by mannequins in dresses, and fashion shows drew people from all segments of society: members of the Party elite, 'NEP-men' and their wives, and ‘heroes of industry’.
The lives of postal workers in the 19th century were hard, as were their duties. They didn’t get paid enough to live, and they didn’t get any weekends or holidays, or even lunch breaks. Why is this relevant to HSE? Because this building used to belong to the postal service.
In the 1950s, a golden candlestick was found in the ventilation system in one of the rooms of this building – a reminder of the fact that it was initially a jewellery factory. During the Soviet era, the building housed a leather and footwear training school, dormitory and a continuing education institute for engineering and technical personnel.
Building No. 12 on Malaya Pionerskaya Ulitsa has a complicated history. Residents of neighbourhoods and even some university staff members believe that a women's prison once stood here. This is not true. Before the revolution, it was the Olovyanishnikov merchants’ factory, which produced expensive church vessels. In the 1920s, the Geodesy Optical and Mechanical Plant had already found a new home at this location. This is where the first Soviet model camera Leica was manufactured, which was to become the best in the world, although that never came to be.
This house was rebuilt first by merchant Old Believers, who owned the largest optical workshop in Russia, then by former peasants who made their fortunes selling houseware. The original appearance of the building changed with time: during the war, the front lost a part of its sculptural decorations and recently an attic floor was added which broke with the initial architectural concept. Even so, number 18 is one of the most remarkable buildings on Myasnitskaya Ulitsa.
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).