SOME GRIPENBERG SIGHTS IN WINTERISH MOSCOW
- “If I ever start writing my memoirs, the story will start in Prechistensky Boulevard in Moscow. It was winter time and the boulevard was covered with snow. I was some six-month-old…” I remember very well my ninety-year-old great-grandmother Nadezhda Kasatkina née Gripenberg saying this. What the story starting in the winter boulevard was about I will talk when all of you are there. For the time being, the very place appears on the photo.
- In this building on the corner of Prechistenka and Pomerantsev Pereulok Streets, my great-grandmother spent her childhood. Her father Vladimir Gripenberg had there a rent-free apartment owned by the Moscow Chamber of Layers which he worked for after having retired from his position of Royal Chamberlain in Saint Petersburg. Much later, in the Soviet time, the building was re-planned and now looks somewhat different.
- Walking down Prechistenka Street you will get to Zubovskaya Square with the building of former Cherniavsky Institute. From its foundation in the 1860s till the revolution in Russia in 1917, Cherniavsky was a high-profile school for well-born girls. Nadezhda studied there from the age of ten through seventeen. The building was largely redeveloped and enlarged in the 1930s.
- If you walk, however, along Prechistenka Street in the opposite direction, it will bring you in its other end to Christ the Saviour’s Cathedral. The cathedral is of the highest importance for the Russian Orthodox Church these days.
- In January 1901, twenty-year-old Nadezhda married Doctor Alexander Kasatkin. The couple moved to an apartment in the then newly built house in Neopalimovsky Pereulok Street. All the windows on the first floor starting from the light-green portico and then left belonged to that flat. It was my first home as well: I lived there from my birth for nearly three years.
- In this historic building constructed in the early nineteenth century, in 1922 the Moscow Central Library for Children was set up; Nadezhda became its first director. It was there that she had a chance to meet Nadezhda Krupskaya, Lenin’s wife who was in those days the person in the Soviet Government responsible for children’s education; once she visited the library. As for the church further down the little street…
- …it is Saint Antipas’s Church dating back to the mid-sixteenth century. The location is some twenty minutes on foot from the Kremlin (or ten minutes by a horse-driven carriage) and the most famous visitor to the church was once upon a time Tsar Ivan the Terrible who would come here when having tooth-ache. Apparently one of the priests in the church in those days had a gift to relief tooth-aches by magical whispering. Here we see the church from the garden of the house where Nadezhda lived from 1922 for the rest of her life (which was 1880-1973).
- This building is located right behind the former children’s library. Nadezhda as the library’s director was given a flat on the ground floor. As a boy, I would visit my dear great-granny there quite frequently; a great amount of stories and episodes to talk about.
- Further in the garden there is the building owned now by the Moscow Museum of Fine Arts; it is a gallery for exhibiting private collections. We may well remember it as once visited by Bertel Gripenberg and Robert Gunst when they came to Moscow to visit me in in 2006. Robert was one of the architects involved in redesigning the old building and adapting it for the museum.
- Towards the end of my photo-session walk, I came to the bank of the Moskva River. The weather cleared slightly and there was a bit of sunshine before sunset. When you come, you will see all these sights with your own eyes in a warmer and greener scenery.
Välkommen till Moskva !