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The specialists were able to restore not only the lost architectural elements, but also the original color of the building.

April 18 all over the world celebrate the Day of Monuments and Historic Sites. Moscow, as a city with a rich architectural past, pays a lot of attention to preserving its heritage – since 2011, 1,578 historical sites have been restored in the capital, including 30 early 2021.

Some of them can be appreciated not only from the outside – they are open to the public. So, last year, the restoration of the oldest cinema in the capital was completed – “Artistic” and Northern river station.

Today, in the center of Moscow, another object of cultural heritage is being restored – the Central House of Journalists. Due to the phased nature of the work, the site continues to function and the House of the Journalist is open to visitors.

Read the article on how the restoration of the House of Journalists is going and what is being restored in the historic building.

Almost three centuries of history

The future House of Journalists was built no later than 1736 – as a city estate. The stone building was erected as a one-story building with a basement; in the middle of the 18th century, the second floor was added, and in the first half of the 19th century – the third.

The last construction period in the history of the estate is the most significant. At the insistence of the merchant of the second guild of the calico king Alexander Pribylov, the house completely changes its appearance. The reconstruction increased the volume of the building and changed the appearance of the facades – the architect Alexander Vivienne made them in the eclectic style.

In 1920, the House of the Press, a club of Moscow journalists, was located here. Alexander Blok, Sergei Yesenin, Demyan Bedny and many other famous writers and poets gathered and spoke here, and Vladimir Mayakovsky was a member of the board. In 1925, Moscow said goodbye to Sergei Yesenin here. In 1938, the Press House was renamed into the Central House of Journalists – under this name it is known to this day.

The first step is the facade

The House of the Journalist welcomes the townspeople and tourists walking along the Boulevard Ring with an elegant facade – exactly the same it was known to Muscovites of the 19th century. In order to return the front part of the building to its historical appearance, restoration work was carried out in the House of Journalists in 2020. The specialists were engaged not only in decorative elements: they sorted out the brickwork and strengthened the damaged sections of the wall. In some places of the masonry, there were no pilasters and cornices at all – its place was occupied by a layer of plaster of 10-15 centimeters.

Sergei Kupriyanov, architect of the Pyrite-99 restoration workshop, says that the surviving decor was not dismantled. All architectural forms were cleaned and restored right on the façade, and the missing elements were cast on site according to the surviving samples. The specialists created the model, removed the mold, cast a new part and installed it on the facade.

“The entire decor of the facade was covered with numerous layers of paint after previous renovations, starting from pre-revolutionary times. The restorers have made a lot of effort to clean up and not damage the historical form. For example, on the second floor under the windows there is a decor in the form of garlands with volumetric flowers in full size. These flowers split off, some were lost. We made new parts from the remaining elements and installed them in place. Now the look is fully consistent with the idea of ​​the architect Vivien, ”emphasizes Sergei Kupriyanov.

You can see in what condition the facade was before restoration is possible not only in old photographs. It is enough to go out into the courtyard of the former estate: darkened paint and broken plaster await visitors there. This is the facade of the late 19th century. On the window frames and the crowning cornice, many details are missing, but they will be re-cast from the surviving elements. However, it will not be possible to fully examine the work of architectural art – the first floor of the mansion is covered by a rough Soviet extension. According to the specialist, it will be dismantled and will completely open access to the restored facade.

“Until the middle of the 19th century, the main facade faced the courtyard, towards Kalashny Lane, and only when the importance of the Boulevard Ring increased in Moscow, the main facade was reoriented to Nikitsky Boulevard,” says the architect.

So that the idea of ​​Alexander Vivien really did not suffer, the restorers did not miss a single detail. So, the white-stone basement with window lintels, which have been preserved from the first construction period – the beginning of the 18th century, has been completely restored. Chemists-technologists carried out an analysis, established the strength of the white stone, its characteristics, and based on them, they selected the necessary composition to restore the lost shape.

The visor over the main entrance will also be replaced. The new one is re-cast from cast iron according to photographs and old drawings. It will be installed shortly. The joinery elements of the window and door openings were also replaced.

In addition, the workers carried out the restoration and reconstruction of the roof in the former House of the Press, shifted the engineering systems.

According to the restorer, all types of work in the historic mansion are clearly spelled out in the permit obtained in Department of Cultural Heritage of the city of Moscow, – it is impossible to do something “from yourself”.

“To get started, specialists conduct a comprehensive scientific study, then make a project that is approved by the Department of Cultural Heritage. We receive permission only on the basis of an agreed project. The list of works and specific places of implementation are precisely indicated there, ”emphasizes Sergei Kupriyanov.

Putti and the secret safe

The basement of the Domzhur became the keeper of history. Here, trough arches hang low overhead. However, the basement was not always so dark – the window openings covered with bricks are visible on the wall. Sergei Kupriyanov hopes that during the work they will be able to open, and the ground floor will see the light again. The lower floor turned from a residential to a utility room in 1887, when a global reconstruction of the mansion took place. At that time, there were four stoves here, which heated the whole house.

However, now specialists are targeting the interiors of the enfilade halls of the second floor, facing the main facade. The Big Front Hall, Marble (Oval) and Fireplace Halls, Blue and Pink Living Rooms, all of which are also the creations of Alexander Vivien, await their turn for renewal. Even the most modest room is distinguished by luxurious decor: it is not difficult to imagine how the light of pre-revolutionary Moscow gathered here.

Each room has its own special decor. For example, the walls of the Oval Hall are entirely decorated with artificial marble, and from the ceiling of the Pink Living Room, merry putti (images of baby boys, sometimes winged cupids, a popular decorative motif of the Renaissance – comment look at visitors. The main attraction of the Fireplace Hall was the safe, which was discovered during the clearing of the room. It is not known when it was installed: it could have happened under the merchant Pribylov, and during the time of the House of Press. The safe, of course, was opened, but it turned out to be empty.

According to the restorer, in the course of the research, the specialists managed to establish the original color of the paint on the walls and detect a glare of gold, which emphasized the shape of the stucco molding. Previously, it was not visible under a layer of paint.

“Restoration has not yet been carried out in the Great Front Hall and the Marble Halls. But we already know that serious work lies ahead: numerous cracks, chips, polishing on artificial marble has been lost. In fact, it will be more difficult than restoration of the facade. If on the facades we actually have only plaster and painting, then here – restoration of artificial marble, clearing of stucco molding, work on gilding, painting and finishing, “- says Sergei Kupriyanov.

Main staircase

The door portals of the Great Hall, decorated with stucco decoration and wood carvings, lead visitors to one of the main objects of Domzhur – the main staircase. She eloquently describes how the object will look after restoration. According to plans, all work in the House of Journalists should be completed by the end of 2021.

Noble gilding makes the stucco decoration more expressive. The colors of the ceiling plafond have been restored. And the steps of the main staircase made of natural marble are complemented by the decoration of the walls with artificial marble of light blue color.

Restorer Grigory Schleg says that working with marble is not easy. The material, like a sponge, over time absorbs dust, dirt and water with which it is washed. Therefore, before starting work, the staircase was carefully examined: they looked at its condition, selected the color and composition of the restoration material.

The work on the restoration of artificial marble turned out to be no less laborious.

“First we come in, remove the wax, see if it is necessary to remove the previous restoration and numerous fillings – sometimes the defects are simply covered up with cement. We check the places where gypsum or plaster peels off: we fill the open cracks with a special compound, but do not touch the dense ones. We select the color according to the palette, like artists, and then we polish with special bars – in professional slang we call them whetstones. Therefore, this method of finishing is called donkey artificial marble. In the future, we cover all this with wax, which we ourselves cook according to the old technologies – with the addition of rosin, turpentine, beeswax, ”adds Grigory Schleg.

According to him, at each site, restorers use the techniques that builders used centuries ago. “In principle, everything is the same, only the instruments have changed – they have become more modern,” the restorer notes.

To complete the composition of the main staircase, only two marble pedestals, balusters and handrails are missing. During the previous restoration in 1985, these elements were lost, and at that time they were made from cheaper alabaster. To recreate the historical accuracy, the specialists worked from drawings and old photographs. All the lost marble parts were made anew in the workshops. Now all the marble elements of the architectural decor are ready – they just need to be installed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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