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Boffo F. K.

The first Lutheran Сhurch adorned Odessa in 1828. Despite the fact that a modest and small-sized building has not been preserved to this day, it is an interesting example of the cultic architecture of the early decades of the city's history.

Lutheran Church   1824—1894   1895—1917   1918—1991   Restoration   Parsonage  Temples-prototypes   Slideshow

Type of building: Religious cult structure
Style: Classicism
Architects: F. C. Boffo, G. I. Torricelli
Date of construction: 1824-1828
Date of demolition: 1894
Status: not preserved

The first manifesto, where the Russian government appealed to foreign nationals for settling in its territory, promising them certain privileges, was issued on December 24, 1751, but in June 22, 1763 the Empress of the Russian Empire, Catherine II issued a new manifesto, which said about the granting of privileges to foreign settlers.

The meaning of the manifesto of Catherine the Great was as follows:

  • freedom of religion;
  • liberation from taxes for 10 years;
  • each family was allocated 60 acres of land (in conversion to the current unit is not less than 65.5 hectares);
  • it was allowed the construction of factories, the development of trade and commerce, creation of guilds, purchasing their own land and so on.

This document was to some extent a turning point. Settlers began arriving to Russia from other countries in droves, including those from Germany.

Old Lutheran Church building in drawings and lithographs

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

After 1850

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Lithograph from the album 1869

Founded later Odessa was not an exception: in 1803 near the city the first German colony — Grossliebental was laid. Throughout the XIX century in current Odessa region territory about 500 colonies appeared. Little more than a century after the founding of Grossliebental in 1905, not far from the city limits there was one of the biggest and probably the best-known German settlement — Liustdorf. Germans settled and in the city itself.

At the beginning of the XIX century in Odessa, as in some other regions of Russia, there was a formation of German communities. The German community did not have their own church in Odessa; services were held in a rented accommodation. In 1811, the German community of Odessa filed a request to build their own church to the city authorities, but because of the devastating wars against Napoleon and Turkey, it was granted only in 1823.

For the construction of the church it was allocated a spacious plot closing Dvoryanskaya Street perspective, which was part of the territory of the community quarter bounded by present streets Novoselskogo, Kuznechnaya, Lutheran and Topolsky lanes. The area became known as the German square, but it was later built up with various charitable and educational institutions of the German community, so its existence as the square ceased. April 28, 1824 the church building was laid.

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Image of the second half of XIX century

The project was completed by Franz K. Boffo, for him the Lutheran Church was the first large order, and, unfortunately, unsuccessful. Already in June 1824 half completed steeple and 10 columns portico crashed down in the main nave of the building, having destroyed it. In the chronicle about it was marked only briefly: «The architect is too little concerned with the construction». After the failure of Boffo, the construction was led by a different Odessa architect — Georgy I. Torricelli,who designed later palaces Horvath and Kamo, the English Club building, 44 benches at the Palais Royal, Sabaneev Bridge and other important facilities for the city.

Pastors of the St. Paul Church in XX century

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Carl Fletnittser, the first pastor and provost of St. Paul Church from 1830 to 1868

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Gerbord Binemann, pastor and provost of St. Paul Church from 1868 to 1891

The opening and consecration ceremony was held October 9, 1827 by the superintendent of the Southern District of the Lutheran Church of Russia Charles Augustus Bettiger. This date is considered the founding date of the church of St. Paul. The church, built by Boffo and Torricelli had a relatively small size and strict classical form.

Over the traditional for classicism portico it was located a low single-tiered steeple with a spire above the bema — a small decorative turret. They formed the general silhouette of a very simple in layout building. Decoration work of the church continued after the consecration. In 1833, the church fence was built in the German quarter area. Next year the City Council turned over the quarter to the community in possession for life. Improvement went on; trees and shrubbery were planted, and in the church the organ was installed. In 1839 (12 years after construction) two new bells were molded and installed. And in 1866, gaslight appeared in the church.

Old Lutheran Church in the photographs

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

General view

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Main façade in Dvoryanskaya Street perspective

In the first half of the XIX century, Lutheran and Reformed denominations in Odessa held a service in the same church. Since 1843, the church of St. Paul was the only Evangelical Lutheran.
With the laying of the first home for the pastor in 1841, the intensive development of the quarter began. In 1845-1846 the house for the poor, aged and disabled members of the church community were built, a construction of community school started. In 1858, the school expanded and renamed in «the German school of St. Paul». As of 1863 it had 718 students of different religious faiths. Subsequently asylum for boys (1877-1880), gymnasium (1881), the administrative building of the church, a new home for the aged, schools for girls (1887-1888) were raised.

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Main facade from Novoselskogo Street

By the early 90s of the XIX century the old church building had become dilapidated greatly and needed in major repairs. Last construction works, eliminating the effects of the last year’s earthquake, were carried out in the temple in 1839. By the time the church had become too small for the growing number of the church community, and therefore the church council in 1893 decided to hold the competition for the best project of the Lutheran Church reconstruction.

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In February 1920, power of the Bolsheviks was established in Odessa, and in October 1921, a special committee withdrew church registers of births, which had been conducted since 1820. Spreading famine gave rise to the confiscation of many church treasures from the Evangelical Lutheran parish of St. Paul by the province executive committee on May 3, 1922.

Lutheran Church   1824—1894   1895—1917   1918—1991   Restoration   Parsonage  Temples-prototypes   Slideshow

However, the really difficult times had come to the community with the beginning of large-scale repression of the 1930s (so-called «Great Terror»), when about 8 million Soviet citizens, among them priests and the religious of all confessions of the country were annihilated on unjust charges. Friedrich Merz, who served as a vicar in Odessa in 1916-1919, was lost in 1931 at the Solovetsky camps. The last pastor of Odessa parish Karl K. Fogel was arrested July 4, 1937 and executed by shooting on October 27 of that year; the church choirmaster and organist, professor of Odessa Conservatoire and concertmaster of the Odessa Opera House Theophilus D. Richter (the father of the eminent Soviet pianist of the twentieth century Sviatoslav Richter) was shot with the other 23 members of the «German» church in October 1941, shortly before the entry of the German and Romanian troops in Odessa.

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

K. Fogel, the last pastor of the Lutheran Church

Public liturgy in the Lutheran church stopped in 1938, the same year the cross from the spire of the church was removed. During the Romanian occupation of Odessa the Church of St. Paul was again opened on 7 December 1941, the service was held until the end of December 1943. The celebration in Odessa parish in this period was carried out by the Lutheran pastors of the German community in Romania. In such a short period, a total of about twenty pastors, to some extent, contributed to the restoration of church traditions in the city.
After the war the building was given Popov Institute of Communications, which main building rose up close to it. The temple was used as a warehouse for a long time, and later — the gym. The apse was equipped with toilets and showers for athletes, and a laundry was attached to the outside of the building, that led to the destruction of the foundations due to the ingress of water and wastewater.

Lutheran Church in postwar times

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

General view from Popov Institute of Communications side

The choir were equipped to practice cycling, wrestling and gymnastics. As a result, deep cracks appeared in bearing structures of the temple. The Lutheran Church destruction continued for decades — slowly but inevitably the building was perishing.

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Cracks and other extensive damages of the façade, photograph 1975

In the early 1960s, the Institute leader’s plans to demolish the dangerous structure for the construction of another student’s dormitory became known to the public at large. In 1965-1966 a fierce struggle for the preservation of the church of St. Paul broke out. Not only the State Security Service of the cultural heritage of Ukraine, but also the leading intellectuals of Odessa and students from various higher schools protested against the demolition of the church. Through their vigorous resistance, it was success in cancellation of the planned explosion of the long-suffering building.

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Roof fragment, photograph early 1970s

In 1971, the Regional Union of Architects applied for identifying the building of the church of St. Paul in the category of architecture monuments and its preservation (it was only in 1979).
Meanwhile, in the church there were systematic restoration works: in order to use it as an organ and concert hall. Public at large supported this project with donations.

When this goal was almost achieved, the fire at night May 9, 1976 almost completely destroyed the building, leaving only the stone case. Almost completely interiors and partially lap structures were lost. Rumors about a deliberate arson have not been ceasing in the city until now.

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Fire at night May 9,1976

Lutheran Church after the fire

General view, the end 1970s General view, the end 1970s General view, photograph 1978
Steeple, photograph by N.Dutsenko at the turn of 1970s and 1980s Right-side facade  and altar towers, photograph by N.Dutsenko at the turn of 1970s and 1980s Main entrance portal, 1978 Altar part and apse, 1978 Side facade, portal and outward walls
Interior columns and beams charring during the fire Choir

Only in 1987, the reconstruction of the building was resumed. Raised funds, of course, were enough only to carry out anti-damage measures in the ruins of what was once the Lutheran church. And everything again reached a dead end.

Restoration Plan, developed by the Kiev Institute for Protection of Monuments (1989)

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Title page

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Church and parsonage (nursing home) conversion plan in the Concert Hall and Music Center

The building was becoming dilapidated disastrously fast, turned into a dangerous shelter for the homeless and persons of doubtful lifestyle.

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

A view of Lutheran Church to the centennial celebration in 1997

A fragment of the facade ruins (the second half of 1990s) A fragment of the facade ruins (the second half of 1990s) Laid windows of the lower tier (the second half of 1990s) Main entrance portal (the second half of 1990s) Windows of the utility services room (the second half of 1990s) One of the small semi columns (the second half of 1990s)
Church interior, a view of the laid apse, 1989 A view of the main entrance from the apse Lobby Stabilizing steel structure in the apse

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Cruel fate fell to one of the most significant objects of historical center of Odessa — St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. Passed all stages of the Soviet struggle against the «opium of the people», being more than once on the verge of collapse and demolition, the temple has risen almost from ashes.

Lutheran Church   1824—1894   1895—1917   1918—1991   Restoration   Parsonage  Temples-prototypes   Slideshow

 Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church. Tourism in Odessa.

General view

Type of building:
Religious cult structure (Lutheran Church)
Administrative (Parsonage)

Style:
Neoromanticism brick (Lutheran Church)
Eclecticism (Parsonage)

Architects:
F. C. Boffo, G. I. Torricelli (Lutheran Church, the  old building)
G. K. Shevrembrandt, H. Y. Skveder (Lutheran Church, the new building)
A. E. Sheyns, A. I. Bernardazzi (Parsonage)

Date of construction:
1824-1828 (Lutheran Church, old building, not preserved)
1895-1897 (Lutheran Church, the new building)
1897-1899 (Parsonage)
2000-2002 (Parsonage, reconstruction for hospitable home)
2005-2010 (Lutheran Church, restoration and reconstruction with restructuring of the altar)

Status:
Architectural monument of national importance (Lutheran Church)
Historical monument (Parsonage)

1824—1894

1895—1917

1918—1991

Restoration

Parsonage

Temples-protypes

 
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