What to visit

Museum-Estate S.M. Rukavishnikov

Description History

In the 19th century, the Rukavishnikov' mansion was considered almost the most luxurious residential building in Nizhny Novgorod. Rich in stucco and interior décor, all of it to the merchant`s taste of the house owner Sergei Mikhailovich Rukavishnikov. Being the heir to a multi-million dollar fortune accumulated by his ancestors in iron trade, Sergei Mikhailovich was obsessed with a passion for pompous house building, and Nizhny Novgorod is to the present day adorned with several buildings erected by his order.

The old manor has its own secret as it hides inside a proper little house formerly located on this very site, it used to belong to Sergei Mikhailovich's father (Mikhail Grigorievich). The young owner chose not to clear the old building but get it integrated into his new project.

Today this building hosts one of the branches of Nizhny Novgorod State Museum Reserve of History and Architecture.

The mansion of merchant Rukavishnikov was built in 1875-1877, a project by architect Boytsov. According to the legend, the architect had initially asked the owner, in what style he would like to have the facade work of his future family house, and the customer replied: "You may build in all and every style, the money is enough." At that time this building was the most expensive in Nizhny Novgorod and it cost one million rubles. Until the revolution, this manor had been in excellent condition. It was the first of all Nizhny Novgorod houses equipped with electricity from 1903. After the revolution, the house was nationalized and subsequently granted to the local history museum. The museum was headed, surprisingly, by the son of the ex-owner, the writer Ivan Rukavishnikov, who had earlier had disputes with his whole family and thus was disinherited, after publishing a novel entitled "The Damned Kind" with clearly recognizable prototypes of the writer`s family members.

For the years without any major repair the building decayed, and in 1994 the museum was closed, it was in a life-threatening condition. In 2007-2010 a large-scale restoration was carried out, and the former palatial appearance of this mansion was eventually restored.

"Everything in that palace is fair and square. Where you see the marble - the marble is authentic and up to the inch thick, not as they do nowadays in the foreign manner, with it sawed up into cardboard-thin sheets. The columns are made of stone, what you see is a proper column, believe it, you may try it with your hand and it won`t tingle, no void inside. And you may trust the column cap, too, is made of real bronze, not gilded cardboard. And in that bronze there is as much of copper and tin as they prescribe in the old books. And in case a war comes in town sometime in the next one hundred years, and if a cast-iron cannonball ever hits this slender arch and breaks against the grinning face of the old satyr, no one would ever see any rotten beams or rusty spikes inside. It`s proper circular stonework, this duly burnt brick may get crumbled rather than this honest layer of true cement could pass ... ".  (By Ivan Rukavishnikov, "The Damned Kind").

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