Libmonster ID: BY-1571
Author(s) of the publication: Vyacheslav YANOVSKY

by Vyacheslav YANOVSKY, Cand. Sc. (Hist.), senior lecturer of the Stavropol State Pedagogical Institute

Health resorts take a special place in public life of any country, as they should dispose people to rest and delight the eye. After all, an aesthetic pleasure which people enjoy through their visual, hearing, and tactile senses has a curative and revitalizing action. Therefore, it is of interest to note how different achievements of human civilization, including "the frozen music" of architecture, happen to be reflected in a fancy way in health resorts. In our country this was most manifest in the late 19th-early 20th centuries.


Back in the second half of the 1870s the Caucasian Mineral Waters Region (CMWR -Ed.) saw a rampant growth of health resorts, which reached its peak in a period of 1900-1914. It was attributed to a railroad laid to and within Northern Caucasia, which made heath resorts more accessible to people of different regions of Russia. At that time such construction styles as Moderne (Art Nouveau)*, neoclassicism and what was called 'Alexandrian eclecticism"** dominated in Russian architecture.

The modernist style, one of the visiting cards at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries, came from Europe. It

See: T. Geidor, "Russian Architecture of the Silver Age", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2009.--Ed.

** See: T. Geidor, "Diversity of Styles in Russian Architecture", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2009-Ed.

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incorporated elements of all previous styles. Buildings thus put up remind palaces, castles and even factory buildings. Attention was paid both to the carefully elaborated exteriors and interiors. All structural components, such as staircases, doors, pillars and balconies were decorated. In addition, the builders used advanced technologies including such materials as metal, glass, and the like.

However, the modernist style could not satisfy the need for imposing monumental architecture. Therefore, by the 1910s, when the public got sick of it, another trend set in, that of returning to the past, to classicism in particular, which appealed by embodying the immortal heritage of the ancient world and the Renaissance. Thus, a new style took body and form, later dubbed "neoclas-sicism"; it adhered to all traditional (classical) principles of architecture.

It was noted for a tendency to comfort and harmony in the interiors (for example, exquisite upholstered furniture) and also to ornate leaves, shells and ancient sculptures as exterior decor.

Eclecticism proper as an architectural style in Russia went through two development stages, namely in the 1830s-1860s and in the 1870s-1890s, respectively. These two periods are known as "Nicholaian" and "Alexandrian" eclecticism, named so after the monarchs Nicholas I and Alexander II. They embody not so much differences in the political regimes as evolution of society in Russia and Europe as a whole and the emergence of a new class of customers. For example, the popularity of Alexandrian eclecticism showed that the world "expanded" for a good many people. Meanwhile, those of the owning classes, both nobles and merchants, would travel a good deal abroad and, back home, tried to build houses they had seen and liked.

It should be noted that eclecticism was a trend of many styles. In other words, new buildings were based on different architectural styles depending on their designation (churches, public edifices, factories, homes) and the money of customers (as seen in the coexistence of rich decor and economic "redbrick" architecture).

One of the oldest eclectic buildings of the 1870s and 1880s in CMWR is represented by the private Du Pare Hotel in Kislovodsk, which belonged initially to the family of Cossack General Ilya Safonov and then was inherited by his son, an eminent conductor and piano player Vasily Safonov. It was the first private stone building there. This extended three-story brick building had a rectangular plan, its window apertures of the ground floor were decorated with latches and those of the upper floor, with stucco lintels. The house was rebuilt a little in subsequent years.

The Mauritania Villa of a senator's widow Olga Bash-kirova-Baranovskaya in Kislovodsk was another conspicuous example of eclecticism of those years. The splendid house (built in 1881) was crowned with a dome decorated with mosaic and had a symmetric arrangement of front facades. The mansion was designed by Vladimir Grozmani, architect of the Tersk Region*. Due to its exquisite appearance it became immediately coveted object for photographers because the two-story

* Tersk Region, an administrative division of Russia belonging to the Tersk Cossack troops in 1860-1920.-Ed.

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brick penthouse resting on a high stone basement was built in the eclectic Mauritanian style, and it looked like an oriental palace. Two types of brick, yellow and red, were used, which produced original striped facades. Ceiling lamps and stained-glass windows were used in the interiors, and metal spiral stairs led to the first floor. A flowerbed with footpaths and sculptures was laid out in front of the villa, and its windows looked on the beautiful Resort Park and the settlement. Probably because of such beauty the Mauritania Villa was brought to the notice of the emir* of Bukhara. Perhaps for this reason the street, where this villa stood, was named Emirovs-kaya early in the 20th century. Unfortunately, this villa has not survived (it was pulled down early in the 1980s when a nearby health resort was expanded).

The Ostrovsky Mineral Baths in Zheleznovodsk** were a later monument of resort architecture. The windows of this house built in 1891-1893 by Pavel Syuzor, a St. Petersburg architect, were decorated in the Arabian style. The air chimneys were shaped like minarets***.

* Emir or sharif ("overlord" or "leader" in Arabic), the title of a ruler or prince in some Islamic countries of the East or Africa. Sometimes the word is used to mean a ruler of Muslims in general.-Ed.

** Zheleznovodsk, a resort city in the Stavropol Territory as part of the CMW group. An original project of mineral baths was implemented with the participation of Mikhail Ostrovsky (1827-1901), younger brother of great Russian playwright Nikolai Ostrovsky; Minister of Agriculture, privy councilor and member of the Russian State Council.-Ed.

*** Minaret, a tall, slender tower (round, square or many-sided) attached to a mosque. A crier summons worshipers to prayer from a balcony near its top.-Ed.

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The palace of Bukhara emir Said Alim Khan (today Ernst Thalmann Health Resort) built in 1913 was another structure in Zheleznovodsk combining the layout and elements of Arabian and Central Asian architecture. The project was designed by a young architect, Vladimir Semenov. He borrowed the decor of window apertures and balconettes from Arabian architecture and glazed facets on the facade, from Central Asia.

The building of the Main Narzan Baths in the Kurort-ny boulevard is in a remarkable Oriental style of the turn of the 20th century in another health-resort town, Kislovodsk. Erected in 1901-1903 to the design of Andrei Klepinin, the building was rich in sculptural and relief images in the spirit of Medieval Indian architecture. The beautiful ceramic panels were made in the workshop of the Abramtsevo estate* belonging to the Russian industrialist and patron of the arts Savva Morozov.

But this is not to mean that the architects who built health resorts in the CMWR were captivated overmuch by the oriental style to ignore achievements of Western

* Today, the Abramtsevo State Historic Museum in the Sergiyev-Posad District of the Moscow Region.-Ed.

architecture. Not at all, they certainly turned to European architectural styles, the neo-Renaissance, for one. A brilliant example of that is the Kursaal of the Vladikavkaz Railway Administration, opened in 1896 (today, the Federal Philharmonic Hall). This magnificent structure has much in common with the famous casino in Monte Carlo designed by the French architect Charles Gamier, but without stucco decorations.


"Fanciful castles" in health-resort areas were very popular. For example, Russian Doctor of Architecture Boris Merzhanov defined this architectural trend as "romantic eclecticism". It included such constructions of the first decade of the 20th century as the mechanotherapy building in the resort park of Yessentuki (designed in 1902 by architect Iosif Zielinski) and also numerous "romantic castles", or country houses, in Kislovodsk.

Striking elements of Gothic and Romanesque were used, for example, in the country-house of merchant Grigory Alexandrov in Kislovodsk.

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Finally, worthy of mention is what is known as the "pseudo-Russian" style. There are only a few examples of this architecture in the Caucasian Mineral Waters health resorts. The country-house (manor) of Maria Gorina (Shcherbak) in Borodinsky pereulok in Kislovodsk is an ocular example of this style. The writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Prize winner in literature (1970), lived there in his childhood years in 1920-1924. This style is also seen in the building of the parochial school on Kirov Avenue in Pyatigorsk.

Elements of the pseudo-Russian style were also present in the decoration of the facades of tradeswoman Ushakova's country-house (today, the Feodor Chaliapin*

* Feodor Chaliapin (1873-1938), Russian operatic basso.-Ed.

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Museum) in Kislovodsk. It was built to the design of a local architect, Emmanuil Khodzhaev, in 1902-1903.

In general, eclecticism was predominant in the health-resort architecture of the CMWR up to the 1910s, and striking examples of the modernist and neoclassical styles were singular until then.


Thus, let us repeat there are only a few typical examples of the Art Nouveau style in CMWR. Generally, local architects married it with elements of other styles, and so architectural eclecticism dominated there as well. Probably it appealed chiefly to the most progressive part of propertied Russians who watched the latest tendencies in the West. It is reasonable therefore that modernistic constructions could be met mostly in the metropolitan and provincial cities.

However, one of the few models of the "pure Art Nouveau style" in CMWR is represented by the mansion (country house) of contractor Miklashevsky in the Dolina Narzanov (Valley of Narzan mineral water), today, a health home in Kislovodsk. The two-story building was built round 1908 to the design of an unknown architect. Decoration of its facades conforms fully to the style canons: these are forged balcony gratings, concrete stands with female heads, and so on.

The tenement houses owned by merchant Ivan Ter-Pogosov and architect Khodzhaev are also typical of the Art Nouveau style. The former house standing on Pros-pekt Mira Avenue in Kislovodsk was built to the design of Emmanuil Khodzhaev in 1905-1909. Of considerable interest are nicely decorated window and door apertures, and balcony gratings. The exterior decor is modest. Khodzhaev's tenement on Kirov Avenue in Pyatigorsk has much in common with the above building. Designed by the same architect, it was built in 1909.

Architect Andrei Kuznetsov used the Art Nouveau style in the construction of the Treasury House on Kirov Avenue in Pyatigorsk in 1908. The building combines large and simply decorated window apertures and decoration of the principal front which, in places, looks like the external decoration of Miklashevsky's country-house mentioned above.

Other constructions are nonetheless eclectic, though each to a different degree. Among them is the mansion of the Tits* brothers on Gagarin Avenue in Pyatigorsk

* The merchants Leonard Tits and his younger brother lonatan (Jonathan) were joint owners of the Brothers Tits Trading House and several flour mills in the region early in the 20th century.-Ed.

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designed by Khodzhaev and built in 1908. The Art Nou-veau style is present here only in the bizarre window apertures. The building calls up associations with the architecture of mediaeval Europe.

Meanwhile the fretwork in the classic style does not make it possible to call the mansion of Ivan Matsievsky in Pyatigorsk modernistic, though the forged balcony grating and the ceramic panel made in Kalmykov's workshop, are attributes of the Art Nouveau style (it was built supposedly in 1915 to the design of architect Andrei Kuznetsov).

Elements of the "romantic eclecticism" and the Art Nouveau style in the decoration of front elevations and balcony gratings can be seen also in Gukasov's coffee-house in Pyatigorsk (built in 1908, architect Sergei Gushchin), which still there. Besides, a synthesis of Art

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Nouveau and other styles was present in other admirable buildings of CMWR, such as the country-house of a Cossack colonel Ivan Zimin in Yessentuki (known as Eagle Nest) located in Andrziewski Street, and many others. All of them were put up in the early nineteen hundreds.


"Classicized Art Nouveau" is a special subject. There are only several examples of such structures in CMWR with many in St. Petersburg* and Moscow.

A distinctive feature of such buildings is a layout symmetry, though observed not always, not typical of the Art Nouveau style in its heyday. Decoration of facades is rather modest, if present at all. Window apertures are rectangular and simple. Such buildings appeared because the splendor of eclecticism and the exquisite delicacy and asymmetry of Art Nouveau wore away.

Among the edifices of the "classicized Art Nouveau" style in Pyatigorsk is the Azov-Don Bank building** put up in 1916 and designed by architect Andrei Kuznetsov (on what is now Kirov Avenue).

But the "classicized Art Nouveau style" came in all its splendor in the All-Social Classes Club in Pyatigorsk (today, the Pyatigorsk Musical Comedy Theater on Kirov Avenue) built in 1915. Against the background of a rather modest stucco decoration, the luxurious ceramic panels on the main facade were most conspicuous.

The mansion of oil industrialist Arutchev on Aviation Street (built about 1915, architect unknown) is a unique monument of this style. It is remarkable for columns and pilasters (rectangular flat columns projecting slightly from a wall) in the Doric and Ionic orders*** with flutes (shallow, rounded grooves on the shaft of a column), not found anywhere in CMWR.

The Batalinskaya manor of engineer Feofil Svirchevsky in Yessentuki is a curious specimen of the late Art Nouveau style, in fact going over to neoclassicism. The building is strictly symmetrical and lacks decor. The window apertures are rectangular with one window in the form of polygon. Reinforced concrete was used as a building material. The construction date, 1913.


Neoclassical mansions were perhaps the best option for CMWR. Such constructions incorporated eye-fill-

See: Zh. Alferov, "St. Petersburg-Russia's Window on Science", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2003.-Ed.

** Azov-Don Commercial Bank, a major joint-stock private bank of the Russian Empire in 1871-1917.-Ed.

*** Ionic order is one of three Old Greek orders (together with the Doric and Corinthian). It differs from the earlier Doric in aerial proportions and in columns having scrolls on the capitals.-Ed.

ing harmonic proportions, symmetry, spaciousness and splendor. Neoclassicism was advocated by such architects as Nikolai Semenov and Eugene-Karl Schroetter. Noteworthy among the earliest buildings of this style are the Upper Mineral Baths (known then as Nikolaian Baths) erected round 1898 to the design of Nikolai Dmitriev and Bronislaw-Julius Prawdzick. The bathhouse is in perfect symmetry, and its stucco decoration is in the classic style.

The mud baths in Pyatigorsk and especially in Essen-tuki are considered to be the most excellent models of neoclassicism in CMWR. Those in Pyatigorsk were built in 1913 to the design of a Moscow architect, Marian Peretyatkovich, and named Romanov Baths in honor of the tricentennial of the Romanov reigning dynasty. The symmetrical building is rather large, it occupies actually a whole block. The severe and massive columns were built of local stone. The facades are decorated with antique masks. The mud baths named after Semashko* (built in 1915, architect Eugene Schroetter) in Yessentuki is much richer in its lavish decor. Dolo-

* Nikolai Semashko (1874-1949), a known physician, one of the organizers of the public health system in the Soviet Union, member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences (1944) and of the Russian Federation's Academy of Pedagogical Sciences (1945).-Ed.

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mitic limestone*, concrete and reinforced concrete were used extensively in its construction.

The Semashko mud baths were built on a huge cast-in-situ reinforced-concrete plate. Two big sculptures of the Roman god Aesculapius and goddess Hygieia** were raised before the main facade. Many windows are in the shape of a semicircular arch fashionable in ancient Rome. The baths called up the atmosphere of Roman thermae, a center of public life and health-building activities.

In resort parks one still meets buildings put up in 1908-1914 to the design of an eminent architect of the early 20th century Nikolai Semenov, such as the nice buvettes*** of mineral springs (Yessentuki), the Podkova trading house, the public coffee house (known as Kolon-nada) and the Temple of Air pavilion (Kislovodsk).

Neoclassicism in private houses in CMWR is much less frequent. It is present only in the Villa of Roses with its

*Dolomite is a rock-forming mineral of the carbonate class of white, grayish and other colors.-Ed.

**Aesculapius, in Roman mythology, the god of medicine and of healing, son of Apollo; identified with the Greek Asclepius. Hygieia, in Greek mythology, the goddess of health, daughter of Asclepius and Epiona or Athena.-Ed.

*** Buvettes, or pump-rooms, structures built above mineral springs for feeding mineral water to users and protecting it from pollution.-Ed.

modest decor, belonging to engineer Ernest Carstensz, on Mashukskaya street in Pyatigorsk (built in 1914, architect Eugene Schroetter) and also the country-house of Anas-tasia Dondukova-Korsakova (1828-1929) on Yaroshenko street in Kislovodsk (1910, architect Andrei Kuznetsov) with a bay-window; it looks like a small manor.

The health-resort architecture of the Silver Age did not vie (nor wanted to) with metropolitan or major provincial cities. But it played a very important role in giving aesthetic pleasure and providing comfort to guests during rest or treatment. Health-resort buildings were meant to give health and cure, rather than impress. That is why the above "romantic castles", exquisite Oriental and Renaissance "temples" and "palaces", classic pavilions and "Roman" thermae, all nice and occasionally even imposing but utilitarian by and large, formed the architectural pattern of health resorts in CMWR. Naturally enough the wondrous, even mind-boggling Art Nouveau style was not as much around as in the metropolitan cities of the Russian Empire.


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