Kekusheva’s Mansion

21, Ostozhenka str.
Year of construction:
Art Nouveau
Now Ostozhenka Street is home to the most expensive real estate in the capital. Until the 17th century, there were meadows and grasslands; an integral part of the picturesque landscape were haystacks. Hence the origin of the street name. 

In the 19th century, Ostozhenka became bourgeois, and the famous Moscow Art Nouveau architect Lev Kekushev built a house for his family there. It was the second house designed by Lev Kekushev for himself. 

The first one is in Glazovsky Lane; soon after completion, it was sold to industrialist Otto List. 

Fans of Mikhail Bulgakov’s writing believe that this gothic mansion on Ostozhenka was the most likely place where his protagonist Margarita lived. 

Lev Kekushev drew up the Ostozhenka design for one of the mansions commissioned by S.I. Mamontov in 1899, which was initially supposed to be erected by the Northern House-Building Society in the vicinity of Tverskoy Boulevard. Mamontov suffered bankruptcy, the large-scale construction project was not implemented, and Kekushev used his provisional plans for a house on Ostozhenka. 

The building adhered to the Gothic style that came into fashion in this period and resembled a medieval European castle featuring an asymmetric layout, volumes of different height, and a faceted turret with a long spire. 

The architect and his entire family, including his spouse Anna, son and daughters, moved into this house in 1903. This dwelling was spacious and fitted with hot-air heating, cold and hot water plumbing, sewage removal system, and beautiful furnishings made according to the architect’s blueprints. It also had a plot of land and an outbuilding. 

The house interiors are relatively humble yet very functional. They combined wood, stone, and metal. 

The grand staircase is the centerpiece of the composition; all other rooms are grouped around it. It is adorned with openwork railing comprising artfully inserted sunflowers and honesty. This motif symbolizes the circle of seasons and reflects the aesthetics of the Silver Age. 

The exact role of each room is unknown; however, supposedly, the ground floor had homeowner’s study (facing the courtyard), house mistress’s study (facing the street), while the second floor had dining and sitting rooms (divided by an extendible glass partition), a bedroom and a cloakroom. The mezzanine floor was apparently reserved for children. 

Soon after, the house got a new owner. Lev Kekushev's archive contains a photo with the architect's handwritten note “Smitsky's house”.  
«Moscow mansions»

Restoration (2018)

Laureate of the competition "Moscow Restoration - 2018": for the best organization of repair and restoration work, for the best project of restoration / adaptation, for the high quality of repair and restoration work.

For the last several decades, the Office of the Military Attaché of the Arab Republic of Egypt occupied Ostozhensky “castle”. In 2013, GlavUpDK under the MFA of Russia commenced a complete overhaul of the building, including some restoration.

Apart from necessary tasks such as strengthening foundations and vaulted ceilings, damp-proofing of floors and walls, and installing the up-to-date utility systems, many lost pre-existing decoration ornaments were restored. The building regained historically accurate roofing, which matched the clay tiles patterns but consisted of modern titan-zinc alloy. Spelter (a non-ferrous alloy) details of the façades were restored while the missing chimney bonnets were re-installed to match other similar buildings designed by Lev Kekushev.

Returning the colossal (3 x 2 m) bronze lion sculpture to the gable of the main façade became the zenith of exterior restoration works and a notable event for the fans of architecture.

This sculpture, a symbol of Kekushev’s art style which he repeatedly used in his designs, disappeared in the early 10th century under questionable circumstances and now has been recreated per archive documents. Even though the lion sits 15 meters above the ground, it can withstand the most extreme weather while not putting too much pressure on the building’s frame.

The façades got back their original colors made up of five different kinds of brick masonry; eagle figures nestled in secluded nooks of the façade; beautiful stucco ornaments (chestnut leaves and fruits and floral arrangements) were cleaned up.

Several bricked-up door and window openings were also restored to their original shape.

The interior restorers paid particular attention to recreating the authentic color appearance of door units, wall panels, and built-in furniture. A noble dark brown color scheme reflected Kekushev’s initial design idea. Worn-out parquet floors, two rare fireplaces (in Kekushev's office and the bedroom), chandeliers, and copper heating grilles that still existed in some rooms were restored.

Restorers resorted to technologies and materials of the early 20th century; however, modern injection, grouting and shotcreting technologies were also used. The unique iron fence and gate with their original ornaments were restored.
Next mansion
City estate of A.A. Kazakov – E.D. Dunker
9, Povarskaya str.