Matilda Kschessinska Mansion
Designed for the prima ballerina Matilda Kschessinska ( Kschessinskaya) by Alexander Gogen, the mansion is an architectural landmark building in the historical center of Saint Petersburg. This lavish building is usually considered to be a variation on the contemporary Vienna architecture.
Kschessinska – a former lover of Tsar Nicholas II, their turbulent romance lasted for two years (she would later marry Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich) – was a true socialite of the time. She was very active on the social scene, loved to attend and throw parties. Therefore, the architect faced a formidable task of having to design a place that would both allow luxurious privacy and provide a glamorous ambience testifying to her social status.
The theatre programme, obligingly provided with a French translation, informs us that among others, Kscheschinska will do herself the honor to play the leading role. "But, honored sir, that is quite impossible; first, because this is the carnival time ; second, because most of the seats are already subscribed for; and third, because Kscheschinska dances to-night " — a sly closing of the left eye accompanies the mention of the name — " and neither the Emperor nor the court will be absent from the theatre. Unless you pay twenty to thirty rubles to a speculator you will hardly get into the theatre.
The land of riddles (Russia of to-day) Ganz, Hugo, 1904
A single-story building seems to grow out of a two-story one. On one side are domestic quarters and on the other a grand dining room and a winter garden. Stone, glazed tiles, molding and forged metal are fused into a single whole here.
In the early months of the 1917 revolution the mansion was looted and wrecked by the revolutionary soldiers. For a few months it housed two leading bodies of the Bolshevik party - the Central and Petrograd Committees (from March 11 to July 6 of 1917). The Central Committees military organization, the Soldatskaya Pravda editorial office, and the Pravda soldiers club, also had their premises here. When Lenin returned to Russia on April 3, 1917, he came straight to this house from the Finland station in the armored car. In the days that followed he spoke from the balcony of the house several times.
Comrade Lenin went to the citadel of Bolshevism, the former home of the tsar's favorite Kshesinskaia, after the February Revolution occupied by our governing party institutions.
Fyodor Raskolnikov, Leningrad in 1917
Having lost all her possessions, the ballerina and her family left Russia forever.
In November of 1957, the Museum of the Great October Socialist Revolution was opened here. The building now houses the Museum of Political History.