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.
Owned by the church
The grand house at number 18 has a long history. Old Moscow’s appearance was shaped to a large extent by the numerous places of worship, not just churches but the lands around them where the clergy lived. Land owned by a church might not be adjacent to it but in various locations around the town and across the country. The land number 18 was built on belonged to the Church of St Archdeacon Evpla which had once stood on the other side of the street, on the intersection with Milyutinsky Lane.
First records of St Evpla’s date from the XV century. The church was initially build of wood and then rebuilt in stone in C XVII. The church became a kind of monument to the war of 1812 because it was the only place in Moscow which held services under French occupation. That however was not enough to save it from destruction by communists - it was pulled down in 1925.
From the middle of the XVIII century the church owned property across the road which consisted of a few little wooden houses with gardens and farm buildings. In 1840 the Voyekov family bought the property and built a two story stone house there.
In the mid 19th century Myasnitskaya Street began to change significantly when the nobility who had owned most of the properties up until then began to be replaced by merchants, and merchant Old Believers at that.
Merchant Old Believers
In 1853 the Voyekov’s house was sold to Abram Sergeevich Tryndin - a merchant Old Believer. Former peasants, the Tryndin’s founded the first optical workshop in Moscow and came to be the largest company in Russia of its kind. The workshop and shop selling optical, surgical and surveying instruments was on Bolshaya Lubyanka Street in a house that belonged the Prince Golitsyn. Tryndin’s products were shown in many trade exhibitions and each time won prizes. The firm supplied surveying instruments to landmark companies and mathematical and astronomy instruments to schools and colleges. in 1909 in their centenary year the Tryndin’s were awarded two national emblems.
Abram Sergeevich and his brother Yegor inherited the firm from their father and late in 1853 they decided to divide it. Yegor kept the business and ran it successfully until the 1930s while Abram set up a new company of his own. The house on Myasnitskaya Street was purchased for it.
One of the unique lines produced by Abram Tryndin’s workshop was a sundial. The sundial of polar explorer Ferdinand P. Vrangel is on display in a museum in Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky in North Eastern Siberia with the maker’s label ‘Moscow master craftsman Abram S. Tryndin’.
After Abram Sergeevich died in 1865 his son Ivan carried on the business. He couldn’t maintain his father’s high production standards and closed the firm in 1869 and sold the house on Myasnitskaya Street to his father-in-law, the textile manufacturer, merchant Old Believer Ivan P. Butikov. The house underwent major building work to turn it into a shop for the factory’s textiles and cloth.
When Ivan Petrovich’s wife died he went to live in a monastery leaving his only son Stepan to manage the factory and the shop. All went well at first. In 1872 the First All-Russian polytechnical exhibition to mark the 200 anniversary of Peter I took place in Moscow. It lasted from May to September. Its purpose was to exhibit the nations achievements in industry, agriculture, transport, defence, science, technology and culture. The organising committee sent letters to the largest factories and enterprises throughout the regions of the Russian Empire, inviting them to take part. There were numerous pavilions in the centre of Moscow in the Alexander Gardens, the Kremlin, on the embankment etc., More than 10,000 exhibitors from Russia and around 2,000 from abroad took part and more than 750,000 visitors came to see the exhibition over the five months.
Many muscovites responded to a request from the city council to make their homes available for hotels to accommodate the vast number of participants and guests to the exhibition for the duration. Stepan I. Butikov took part in the exhibition and offered his house on Myasnitskaya Street to be used as a hotel.
In 1888, when Stepan died without leaving an heir, the house returned to his sister, Ivan Tryndin’s wife Natalia, now remarried to one Shevlyagin. She herself lived on Zubovsky Boulevard and let the house on Myasnitskaya to offices and predominantly businesses which produced engineering tools. At the end of the century an English company ‘Hornsby and Sons’ had its main depot on the ground floor where at any time you could see an oil engine in action. A company advertisement for the engine claimed, “unusually simple construction, entirely fire-proof, no imperfections”. On the first and second floors, were Voytsekhovsky’s furnished rooms.
A document in the Moscow Central historical archive describes the house in 1902. It mentions that the house had three storeys and a plaster facade with iron coverings. Inside there were Dutch and Russian tiled stoves, parquet floors of oak and pine, stone staircases and plumbed in water closets. Butikov’s descendent decided to sell it and in 1902 it came into the hands of another merchant, Mikhail Ivanovich Mishin.
The founder of the Mishin line was the peasant serf Ivan Mishin, born in 1830. When he and his family were emancipated he set up a business, Ivan Mishin and Sons, with several outlets in Moscow where customers could buy a whole range of goods for town and country households. Mishin and Sons were in direct competition with the famous department store set up by two Scotsmen, Muir and Merrilees. One of the shops was on Myasnitskaya, in the building where Biblio-Globus is now. A curious account in newspapers of the time characterises the serious relations between merchants and the reputations of their shops. Mishin is quite a common surname and on Tverskaya Street at the time there was a lamp shop owned by another Mishin. An unpleasant incident occurred when the owner rudely short changed a customer. A nobleman acquaintance came to her defence, a fight ensued, goods were smashed and the police were called to the scene. Later a satirical article appeared, the owner tried to refute the whole business in the paper but it came to court and the judge was the merchant Mishin. All of this brought undesired publicity for our Mikhail Ivanovich Mishin. Even though they had no family or business connections with the Tverskaya Mishins, his reputation suffered. He was obliged to put an announcement in the newspaper, ‘From the lamp shop, Mik. Iv. Mishin, Myasnitskaya, Stakheyev building, belle etage. In consequence of the incident which took place on the 4th of this month in I. I. Mishin’s shop on Tverskaya Street near Triumphalny Gate, in the Korovin building I hereby declare has nothing whatsoever to do with my shop which has existed for almost 27 years. Moscow 1st Merchants Guild, Mikhail Ivanovich Mishin.’
Having acquired the Myasnitskaya property, Mishin set to work on its reconstruction with the help of the architect Ivan T. Baryutin.
In 1903, preserving the old walls, Baryutin constructed a four storey building to accommodate shops, offices and stalls. It was the first apartment building the architect had designed and in it Baryutin explored many aspects of the moderne style.
During WWII the facade fell into disrepair. The sculptural decorations were damaged, the balconies were taken down along with the cartouches and other minor sculptures. All this and other alterations undermined the architects original intentions and changed the striking appearance of the building.
The real treasure and genuine masterpiece of the interior decorations of the house is the carved and painted wooden ceiling in one of the current offices on the third floor. It is a unique work of art created by craftsmen at the beginning of the 20th century. The themes and colours of the design are in the best tradition of old Russian interior painting which is also found in the Moscow Kremlin and Kolomenskoye palaces. One of the principles of moderne is the sophisticated harmonization of styles from different epochs, giving rise to something new. Here the artist has added images of owls to the generally eastern-influenced design, and they are repeated four times around the central circle.
Apartment Building with Shops
The luxurious house on Myasnitskaya was filled with shops and offices. And again, the firms were engineering and industrial. For a long time Bromley Brothers - one of the largest machine building firms in Russia had its store there. Edward and and Frederic Bromley were Englishmen who took Russian citizenship. In 1857 they opened a small workshop in the Zamoskvarechye district and produced axes, saws, scythes and other farming tools. They broadened their range and bought land in Kaluzhkaya zastava where, late in the 19th century, they had a large factory producing steam engines, factory plant and pipes for urban water supplies. The Bromleys were acquaintances of the architect Baryutin who ordered lead and iron shafts, joists and girders from them when he was constructing the stands at the hippodrome. Bromley Brothers products were used in building the Pushkin Arts Museum in Moscow and in the first world war they manufactured armaments. in 1916 the factory had a section producing car engine parts and Egor Bromley, Edward’s son invented a gas engine. You could see all the Bromley factory products and place orders at 18 Myasnitskaya Ulitsa.
In 1918 the Bromley Brothers factory was nationalised and renamed Red Proletariat. Later, in 1951 it became the Efremov Machine tool factory which worked successfully throughout the Soviet period.
The other big producer who had an office in the Mishin house on Myasnitskaya Street was the Estland (Estonian) nobleman Theophil Ivanovich Gagen.
He was one of the first businessmen to sell the immensely popular American National cash register in Russia. They were perfect both functionally and in design. They had four draws each of which opened by pressing a different key. The back of the top had an internal counter which registered the number of times the till was opened and closed. They were made of brass, wood, silver, nickel and sometimes gold and were richly decorated and engraved. The American National was such a well made product that many of them were used in Soviet shops right up until the 1960s.
In 1915 the rubber manufacturing company Kauchuk moved from Riga to Moscow and opened offices at 18 Myasnitskaya Street.
Even the revolution which led to Myasnitskaya being renamed Kirov Street, did not bring much change to the life in the Mishin house. Until 1930 it remained a technical establishment, particularly for the offices of the factory Krasny Metalist - Red Metalworker - which in Marina Roshche was repairing all kinds of machines, constructing in metal, and ran a workshop to repair sewing machines under the technical direction of Peter Nikolaievich Starshinov.
On the ground floor there were shops with big windows. In the 1970s and 80s they sold fruit and vegetables. There was a clever display with water running down the windows through which artistically displayed fruit and vegetables looked particularly fresh and attractive to customers. The other floors in the house were occupied by departments of the Ministry of Chemical manufacturing which was based next door at number 20.
Since 2011 the following HSE departments have been based here:
Author: Anastasia A. Solovyova
Art historian, historian of Moscow. Author of Litsa rossiiskoi istorii: kolleksia portretov (Faces of Russian History: A Collection of Portraits); director of a film-walk Ot Kremlya do Novodevichy (From the Kremlin to Novodevichy), 1997; Research editor on Lubiansky Triugolnik (Lubianka Triangle), by A.V. Kolosov. Anastasia Solovyova has studied and written about the bells of Moscow and is a tour guide for ‘Moscow that isn’t there’ and a contributing author to the website ‘Get to know Moscow’.