A View From Russia. 1917. Revolution.


Mi Staff Sergeant
MI.Net Member
Sep 7, 2010
I an a historian, geologist and a geo-archaeologist and so this subject is of a highly important conflict and worth sharing.

This last weekend I went on a bus trip with Mrs Engineer, away from Moscow to the city of Klin with the primary purpose of going to see the Tchaikovsky Museum and other places connected with him.

For me one of the most interesting places I went to was the house of the composer and contemporary of Tchaikovsky, Sergei Ivanovich Taneyev. Taneyev was a great lifelong friend of his and a critic unafraid to express his opinion. It is said that Tchaikovsky feared his opinion.

“I know you are absolutely sincere and I think a great deal of your judgment. But I also fear it “.
The composer Leoni Sabanayev explained why.

“I think he was unnerved by the overt frankness with which Taneyev reacted to Tchaikovsky’s works: Taneyev believed that one must indicate precisely what one finds to be ‘faults,’ while strong points would make themselves evident. He was hardly fully justified in his conviction: composers are a nervous lot and they are often particularly dissatisfied with themselves. Tchaikovsky was just such a person: he worried himself almost sick over each work and often tried even to destroy them.”

Homestead Demyanovo is outside of Klin, which is on the busy dial carriageway and main road to St. Petersburg. You turn off the main road and you are in a different world of leafy tree lined lanes leading to the park. The park itself is a mix of natural meadow land and woodland of oak, small leafed limes, and silver birch. It also contains an old historical Orthodox church formerly associated with the park, the Church of the Archangel Michael, erected during the time of the first owners of the estate in 1778-1783. It is noteworthy that the church is still functioning today, repair works are currently underway in it.

The construction of the Pozhigorodovo estate (otherwise – Podochegorodovo) began in 1770, thanks to the brothers Yuriev, then the estate was owned by the landowner Kozlov, General Gulkovsky and a nobleman, Sokolov.

The Homestead was a substantial country house mansion and was caught up in what we call the Russian Revolution between the mainly working class Bolsheviks or Reds led by Lenin and Bogdanov, and the Whites. It is hard to describe the politics of the Whites except as being anti Bolshevik and more pro-Tsarist and traditional, but this is a simplification of complex political structures. However the revolution and civil war was to last 5 years from October 1917.

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19th Century photo of Homestead Demyanovo

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Interpretation panel of Homestead Demyanovo as it was before 1917

The Bolshevik takeover of Moscow resulted in widespread sacking of buildings such as churches and monastries as well as historical buildings. Priceless items were stacked into piles and set fire to, and buildings were systematically pulled down, aside from the extensive damage caused by fighting. It is against such a background the Homestead Demyanovo was set fire to by the Bolsheviks.
Today the House still stands and is a brick built shell. Some of the original cement render shows the original mouldings and the pilasters, but where missing render the raised brickwork shows how the house appeared. Also to be noted is that phases of building occurred with signs of blocked windows and doorways to the outside. Internally the plaster work is bonded with wooden slats being fixed to the walls, but little of this remains, and in some cases shows blue emulsion was used in the kitchen areas. Needless to say there are few signs of what internal decoration there was and no doubt decorative wooden panelling and ceilings are likely.

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The ruined front of Homestead Demyanovo. The kitchen is to the left in the photo

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The ruined East end of the house, which is the kitchen area. You can see the remains of blue coloured plaster through the gaping window hole

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The North East view of the house. The kitchens are to the left

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A glimpse inside through a frameless window in the West end. This is the end that seems to have suffered fire damage. As you can see, stinging nettles and elder predominate on the pile of rubble

After many years it is quite hard to see what was actually happened in 1917. In some windows the remains of the wooden frames remain but these are glassless now. However the signs of fire exist in approximately 1/3 of the house at the West end. It is possible to surmise that this was enough to render the house unuseable (especially in October with winter coming) but beyond that it is impossible to say.
Comparing the site to Winnall Mill is obvious and debris in piles remains in the ground floor. Trees and stinging nettles are the residents now. Who knows what systematic clearance could reveal.
For certain, Russians have a different idea as what to do with this building and they seek a buyer for the park and house for the price of 1 ruble. Currently 10 rubles is around 14 pence. If a suitable wealthy person can be found they will need to completely rebuild the house as it was before and a price estimate is something in excess of £5,000,000. The house would then become a museum dedicated to Sergei Taneyev, some of whose property and effects are kept in the Tchaikovsky Mueum in an external pavilion. Currently donations are asked for.
This is an interesting approach that I personally don’t quite agree with and is akin to rebuilding Whitley Court. For me the better approach is to appreciate the ruin in its setting and ensure it remains as is. The careful excavation of the rubble and debris is needed. The site has plenty of room for a pleasant modern building to become a museum, and as a whole benefit from interpretation and history.
I hope you enjoy my photos, some are mine and others from various sources and I give references below. Thank you to the publishers for enhancing my knowledge and understanding of this lovely place.
P.I. Tchaikovsky State House-Museum in Klin has a branch - "Demyanovo Estate". Well-known since the early 18th century, it was bought by a Moscow social figure, philosopher and social scientist Vladimir Ivanovich Taneyev in 1893. He managed to form a circle of brilliant Russian intellectuals - scientists, artists, poets there.

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We went to the A.S. Pushkin State Historical and Literature Museum and Reserve two years ago. Although the house and estate is preserved, it is a restoration and was also burnt down in 1918. The estate has huge ditches and bastions from the Napoleonic era 1812 erected by General Kutusov. He was the one who carried out the scorched earth policy during Napoleon's Russian Campaign. Napoleon himself was a visitor there. Strangely they face southwards and instinct says they would protect the house and estate, but apparently not. The massive metal doors of the powder bunkers still exist but they seem to be of no importance. Strange views of history to me

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