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Mansion History

The Mansion is located on 7 Myasnitskaya Street,  off Lubyanka Square.

The Mansion is located on 7 Myasnitskaya Street,
off Lubyanka Square.

History Of The Tchertkoff Mansion – Site of ROSSIKA – the First Public Library of Moscow in the 19th Century

The history of the Tchertkoff Mansion goes back to the time of Peter the Great when the Kasimov Princes, descendants of the Khan of the Golden Horde, lived there. In the early 18th century Prince Dolgoruky owned the Mansion. Later, in that century, it became the property of a hero of the Battle of Borodino, Major-General Saltikov. The Mansion, where Napoleon spent two nights before withdrawing from the burning city, did not succumb to the flames of the Great Fire of 1812. However, its most interesting period is associated with the residence of Count Alexander Dmitrievich Tchertkoff, Marshal of the Nobility, (1789-1858) who bought it in 1831 from Major-General Saltikov. He was the President of Historical and Antiquarian Society of Moscow University, Marshal of Moscow Province Nobility, scholar, archeologist, bibliophile and numismatist. During his lifetime, Tchertkoff created what was then Moscow’s largest private library -22,000 volumes. The library consists of rare manuscripts and books on Russian history, culture and science, written in many languages of Europe. It was used by the elite of the Russian literary circle including Pushkin, Gogol, Tolstoy, who used it when writing “War and Peace”.

In 1859, Alexander’s son Grigorii Tchertkoff built a left wing onto the mansion, especially to house the library, which was, according to his father’s will, open to the public, therefore becoming the first public library in Moscow.

In 1871, Grigory Tchertkoff addressed the City Duma and donated his father’s library, a collection of 300 rare manuscripts and 30,000 volumes, to the city of Moscow with the stipulation that the books remain “eternally accessible” to the general public. During the period after his bequest and before the Revolution of 1917, the collection grew up to 50,000 volumes. The gift was the first of its kind and set a precedent for gifts from the nobility. Twenty years later, following the model established by the Tchertkoffs, the Tretyakovs donated their collection of paintings to establish what is now the world-famous Tretyakov Gallery.

Upon the donation, the collection was moved to the Rumyansky Library in the Historical Museum on Red Square where it remained open to the public until the Revolution and served as the seed of the collection of the State Historical Library which was opened in 1938. Its collection currently stands at 3 million volumes. Today 50,000 extremely valuable ancient books from the original Tchertkoff Library are being stored in one of the storage facilities of the State Historical Library, rotting and disintegrating. Yet they are priceless. Approximately 10% of the collection require immediate restoration and there are still no funds available to begin work. The 350-year-old mansion, which is a historical monument “under the protection of government”, remains an architecturally and culturally important site in the center of Moscow.