History of the House


1918 1926 1927 1930 1931 1932 1941 1976

1918

In March of 1918, Moscow was the capital of the Soviet republics. The Bolshevik Government with Lenin at the helm had moved from Petrograd to Moscow, because of what the amount of officials in the city doubled and reached 281 thousand people.

Senior officials settled in what were called the Houses of the Soviets, which were located in the former hotels, “National,” “Metropol,” and “Petergrof,” in the homes of Count Sheremetev and Prince Kurakin, and also on Znamenka, Neglinnaya, and Prechistenskaya Boulevards. Around twenty additional houses were occupied in the Kremlin.

 

Boris Iofan

BORIS IOFAN
(1891-1976)

One of the leading representatives of Stalinist architecture, author of neosushhestvljonnogo project of the Palace of the Soviets. People's architect of the USSR (1970). Laureate of Stalin Prize of 2nd degree (1941).

1926

By 1926 in the Houses of the Soviet, 5191 people lived in the city and 1257 people lived in the Kremlin. Next in line were an additional 1417 people, and only 29 free beds were left.

It was decided to build a special house for the employees of the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation (TsIK) and the Council of People’s Commissars (Government of the Soviet Union, SNK).

In 1926, chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars Aleksei Rykov successfully proposed to form a commission for the building of the house, and well-known architect Boris Iofan was sent for from Italy.

1927

On June 24, 1927, the location of the building of the “house for senior officials of the TsIK and the SNK of the Government of the Soviet Union, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (VTsIK) and the SNK of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) was chosen on the right bank of the Moscow River, on “Bolota” [swamp]. 6.5 million rubles were allocated for its construction.

Construction was divided into three building seasons. The machinery for construction was issued from abroad. Because of the weakness of the upper soil levels, there was an artificially designed base on more than three thousand concrete piles, below which the foundation was laid on a concrete pad a meter thick.

Iofan designed not merely a residential house, but a unique autonomous complex in the style of late constructivism, including, in addition to the 505 apartments (two on every floor), a club, movie theater, library, clinic, kindergarten and nursery, cafeteria, beauty salon, food and manufactured good stores, savings bank, sports facility, and a laundromat. He implemented innovative architecture and engineer decisions, the first of which was to change the standardized assembly of building materials. The original girder-less ceiling was built in the form of truncated pyramids, and the theatrical hall of the club named after A. Rykov had the largest domed ceiling in the country at the time—its diameter was 32 meters and its width 9 centimeters.

The construction continued for four years instead of the two as planned, and required 24 million rubles, four times more than the anticipated costs.

Construction. Photo from the site oldmos.ru

 

The construction continued for four years instead of the two as planned, and required 24 million rubles, four times more than the anticipated costs.

1930

On September 9, 1930, the construction of the House was taken over by 850 workers from other constructions sites.

1931

The long-awaited inhabitation of the house began in 1931.

1932

On November 1, 1932, 2745 people lived in the house: 838 men, 1311 women, and 596 children.

The apartments were mainly three- and four-room, with areas of 150-17 square meters, but the senior leadership was provided with five- to seven-room apartments: foyer, living room, office, dining room, bedrooms, servants’ quarters, and a kitchen. Furniture in the house was standardized: chairs, tables, cupboards, gas stoves, etc. had inventory tag numbers. The floor was laid with oak parquet, the ceilings adorned with decorative paintings, designed by artists-restorers from the Hermitage.

A few apartments contained huge balconies occupying more than 100 square meters; during winters, they were flooded to make ice skating rinks, hill of snow were built, and one of the residents kept a bear on one, brought from a trip to Khabarovsk.

Apartments with a view of the Kremlin were located in entrances 1 and 12. Entrances to the house formally numbered 25, but there were in fact only 24. There was no apartment attached to entrance № 11—only stairs, leading nowhere. This was a result of the decision to enlarge the apartments in the two neighboring entrances at the expense of the third. The entrance remained, but the apartment didn’t.

 

On November 1, 1932 year lived in the House
2 745 people:

838 men

1 311 women

596 children

Dining room. Photo A. Panikian.
Club. Photo A. Panikian
Gym. Photo A. Panikian..
The enclosure of the House of Government was grouped around three courtyards. To pass from one courtyard to another could only happen with a special pass. Fountains, which had been located in the courtyards, were paved over after the war. Snow-melting chambers stood in the courtyard. Instead of providing trashcans, cleaners with pots on their backs walked through the courtyards cleaning up trash.

Prominent military leaders, heroes, artists, journalists, writers, academics, leaders in the party and the government, and Comintern workers lived in the House of the TsIK and SNK. Among the most famous residents were the son, daughter, and relatives of the wives of Stalin, Zhukov, Khrushchev, Tukhachevskii, Aleksandrov, Bagramian, and Serafimovich, in whose honor 1933 Vsekhsviatskaia Street was renamed Serafimovich Street in 1933.

In the years of Stalin’s leadership, around 800 out of the 2000 residents of the House of the Government became victims of repression. In a few apartments, lodgers were changed 5-6 times. Sometimes the entire entrance of the apartment was sealed: one resident was executed, others sent to prison or the camps, or, in the best case, evicted to the outskirts of Moscow.

After the arrest of the head of the family, by law, the wife was next in line if she refused to recognize her husband as an “enemy of the people.” The children of arrested parents in the absence of relatives were sent to a special halfway house (Spetsletriyomnik), and then to a special orphanage (Spetsletdom).

 

 

During the reign of Stalin from the 2000 Government House about 800 residents became the victims of repression.

1941

In 1941, the house was empty, the residents having moved or been evacuated. Many had left for the front. The heating, gas, and electric were turned off in the house, and anti-aircraft guns were installed on the balconies of the last floor. Life returned there only in 1942, when the deadly danger for Moscow had passed.

After the war, the house again continued its normal existence.

1976

After the 1976 publication of Yuri Trifonov’s story, the house got a new name amongst the people—it began to be called “The House on the Embankment.” Now the house is on the Bersenevskaya Embankment is one of the symbols of the capital and the entire epoch. The building has been a historical memorial protected by the state since 1997.