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neoclassicism

The apartment house of I. Margulis at the corner of Marazlievskaya Street and Sabanskiy Lane belonging to the typical multi-family residential buildings of the 1910s is a vivid example of prevailing at that time large-scale, mania for great-scale projects and cold rationality in architecture inherent in dominant that time Art Nouveau. In Odessa there are several other ones (apartment houses of Novikov, Rud’, Asvadurov, Shestopal, etc.), but this house singles out by the revolutionary approach to the design and the largest number of storeys.

Type of building: apartment house
Style: Art Nouveau, Neoclassicism
Architect: F. L. Pappe
Date of construction: 1912
Status: local historical and architectural monument

Facade general view

General view of both facades from Marazlievskaya Street and Sabanskiy Lane corner Facade on Marazlievskaya Street Facade in Sabanskiy Lane Facade in Sabanskiy Lane

Since the mid-1890s to mid-1900s, the area between Marazlievskaya Street and Kanatnaya Street, on the odd-numbered side of Sabanskiy Lane belonged to S. Rally. It was later bought back by S. A. Kumbare, but approximately in 1911, the part of the site, which faced Marazlievskaya Street, was sold to I. Margulis. Ignatiy Antonovich Margulis was known as a technical engineer, who was also the managing director of the Odessa telephone exchange and the tenant of the city power station at the beginning of Staroportofrankovskaya Street. The office of I. A. Margulis was located on 12, Pushkinskaya Street.

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I. M. Margulis, who was engaged in grain operations, lived on 34, Remeslennaya Street in the 1910s as well, but in the reference book «All Odessa», 1914 edition, he was not mentioned. The Margulis’ with other names lived in the city, but also in other locations.

In 1912 (according to V. P. Netrebsky in 1913) on the site of Margulis a huge six-storey residential building was erected, which apartments were intended for very wealthy tenants. It is indicated, for example, by a high level of presentable appearance in the interiors that, in addition, served as a visual advertisement of the owner. The building was designed by a civil engineer Felix Lazarevic Pappe who was the author of a small number of buildings projects in 1910s. In general, these projects suggest that F. L. Pappe followed Jugendstil in the design of his buildings and the house of Margulis is not an exception. In the stylistics of decorative items neoclassical tendencies inherent in the architecture of the 1910s can also be traced, trends of Empire style are noticeable.

The ground floor from Marazlievskaya Street goes into a semi-basement due to the rough terrain, but the section in Sabanskiy Lane has six storeys, owing to this fact the house was the highest in Odessa for many decades. Asvadurov’s apartment house at the corner of Pushkinskaya Street and Troickaya Street, having shift from five to six storeys as well, was inferior to Margulis’ house only in terms of height.

The building is characterized by strict rectilinear forms; the construction is not hidden behind the decoration and leads out. With the general view on the facades, there is an obvious tendency to rationalize in the architecture of those years. The mass use of new building materials and techniques led to the conception of pre-constructivist architecture in Odessa sooner than in other cities of the Russian Empire. By 1912, when Margulis’ house was building, rational Art Nouveau had been almost formed in basic canons.

The engineer applied the block approach to the design of the building, which consists of two sections, the most massive of which is available from Marazlievskaya Street side, and more extended — along Sabanskiy Lane with a space from the building line. To improve the insolation and ventilation, in the section on Marazlievskay Street a light well was made, where the windows of the utility rooms and entrance hall look. Block layout of the building is emphasized from Sabanskiy Lane side by a composition of risalits varied in form. Facades decoration tension decreases with moving away from Marazlievskaya Street deep into the lane (part of the facade, which abuts to the next building has a risalit height of only two storeys).

Right-side risalit in Sabanskiy Lane

General view Balustrade

It serves as the basis for a smaller area risalit, two storey high, with three facets on the facade, culminating in an open terrace of one of the apartments.

Small right-side risalit in Sabanskiy Lane

General view Bas-relief on a facade facet

Thus, there is a complex in shapes pyramidal composition, balancing the comparative coldness of the facade design in Sabanskiy Lane. In the lower risalit the passage to a small courtyard of the building, flanked by two tall obelisks, was made.

Passage to the courtyard

Passage arch, a view from the street Light windows of the entrance sluice, in the wall between outer volume of the arch Right-side flag holder, a rare specimen

Courtyard passage gates

General view Ornamental inserts Forged medallion, following decorative elements on the lift doors in the entrance halls Flower, the central part of the forged medallion A decorative element, crowning  the leaves

To the right of the passage there is a modestly decorated doorway to the entrance hall

Right-side entrance door

General view of the entrance door (it is quite possible that the door is authentic and the last preserved from the outer ones) Decorative composition Decorative composition fragment

A stronger emphasis makes a central risalit in Sabanskiy Lane, with a loggia on the fifth floor.

Central risalit in Sabanskiy Lane

General view Perspective view from below

The risalit is decorated with moulded elements in the form of bas-reliefs, which are concentrated in the panels, pilasters and between the loggia openings. The bas-reliefs in panels are traditional for Neoclassicism and depict baskets of fruits, symbolizing abundance and rods, decorated with flowers. More interesting compositions with images of eagles are located under the pilaster capitals.

Central risalit decoration

Bas-relief of an eagle, crowning the pilaster Bas-relief in the panel Bas-relief in the panel

Above, between the loggia openings, workers bas-reliefs are placed, intensifying the austere style of the building. The idea of the proletariat depicting in architecture refers to the trends that existed in the art of the early twentieth century in Odessa and also reflected in the design of the entrances to the Mendelevich’s passage.

Loggia decoration

Bas-relief with image of a worker, decorating the loggia (left-side) Bas-relief with image of a worker, decorating the loggia (right-side) Loggia fencing with forged inserts of original design

In the central risalit the expressive doorway portal of the entrance is located. There are grotesque mascarones on the portal columns and two vases over the entablature. A similar portal leads to the entrance from Marazlievskaya Street.

Doorway portal to the central risalit entrance

General view Portal mascarone, left-side Flower over the mascorone

A corner section represents a separate monolithic volume, but for compensation of the ruggedness, bay windows are arranged on sections of both street facades (facades facing Marazlievskaya Street and Sabanskiy Lane). However, the section is still less loaded with decorative elements from Sabanskiy Lane side and does not spoil accent of the central risalit (described earlier) in Sabanskiy Lane.

Corner section decoration in Sabanskiy Lane

General composition of three panels A panel Medallion

The same pilasters with the eagles as on the central risalit are located on both bay windows however, small medallions with modest ornamentation are placed in the bay window from Sabanskiy Lane side as well, and a regular balcony on the bay windows of the corner section is in keeping with the central loggia on the central risalit.
A section facade on Marazlievskaya Street is smarter and dynamic; there are panels with rods in the bay window as on the central risalit from Sabanskiy Lane side and the bases of pilasters side are made in the baroque style. The windows of the two lower floors of the bay are aggregated in vertical groups by the decorative frame, and balconies lead to both sides of the bay window.

Facade decoration on Marazlievskaya Street

Bay window perspective view from below Eagle bas-relief Eagle bas-relief Eagle bas-relief Medallion Pilaster base Pilaster base, fragment Pilaster base, ornamental decoration Capital of the lower pilaster section, occupying the whole height of the first floor Cornice fragment over the window Ornament specimens Upper storeys fencing (similarly to loggia one)

Basement level on Marazlievskaya Street

Rustic stone fragment Basement level cornice, surrounding outer facades of the building by uninterrupted ribbon Memorial plaque, indicating that Honoured Artist of Ukraine— Gregory Zinovievich Krizhevsky lived in the house in 1956-1965

Under the bay window there is an entrance portal, decorated, as mentioned above, like the portal of the central risalit, but from Marazlievskaya Street it is equipped with three small oval windows, illuminating an additional flute in the sluice formed by the stairs.

Entrance portal on Marazlievskaya Street

General view General view Portal mascaron, right-side Vase An oval window for the sluice illumination

From the second floor the building have balconies, which are varied in design. The second floor balconies have stone balustrade with metal edging on top; the third and fourth floors balconies also have completely metal fence, and the fifth floor balcony — metal fence on stone props. Balconies are placed in the space between the risalits, excepting balconies near to the end of a nearby building in Sabanskiy Lane.

Balconies

Perspective view of left-side facade balconies facing Marazlievskaya Street from below Second floor balcony facing Marazlievskaya Street Second floor balcony facing Marazlievskaya Street, forged fencing fragment Third floor balcony Third floor balcony, fencing prop Third floor balcony, fencing prop Overhang props over the fourth floor balcony Fourth floor balcony facing Sabanskiy Lane, fencing fragment Fourth floor balcony facing Sabanskiy Lane, fencing prop

The first two floors of the building are identified as a basement level by means of large blocks of roughly hewn stone imitating rustication. In the space formed by the indent of an extended section from the building line of the street, a front garden, separated from the pavement by a low metal fence on a stone base, was placed.

Front garden fencing from Sabanskiy Lane side

Fencing fragment Decoration sections Forged scroll

The building is substantial in size and occupies a large part of its site, but the yard is well lit owing to the separate building of the former Peasants Bank at a nearby area on Marazlievskaya Street. Undoubtedly, F. L. Pappe was aware of the nature of the adjacent building, which in those days probably was already building (completed in 1914), and was at a comfortable distance from Margulis’ house, and took into account this point in the draft. Therefore, the firewall of the house, turned to the Peasants Bank, not being designed for an extension to buildings closely, was treated with vertical decorative textured ribbons.

Firewall

Perspective view from below, from Peasants Bank side

However, the limited size of the site forced the architect to bring the windows of the right entrance (facing Sabanskiy Lane) in the courtyard passage, and the windows of technical utility services rooms on Marazlievskaya Street — in a specially equipped light well. Some rooms overlook the same right-side passage. Left-side entrance, on the contrary, has a classic layout «lobby-staircase», and equipped with windows located on its axis, so that all the flights of stairs are well lit and landings are quite compact in size that also has a positive impact on insolation. Courtyard facades are made in rationalization design manner peculiar to Odessa.

Courtyard passage arch

General view Decoration of the light widows section of the entrance sluice Medallion, decorated by a  wreath Medallion, decorated by a  wreath

Courtyard facade

General view Balconies and stairs risalit Staircase  window, illuminating the entrance hall in the central risalit in Sabanskiy Lane Window with reconstructed stained glass, illuminating upper stairs landing in the entrance hall on Marazlievskaya Street Balcony fencing fragment Balcony fencing fragment Perspective view from below from the right-side entrance on Marazlievskaya Street

Small risalits with faceted corners look in the courtyard, the facades are roughcast, and under the windows panels are arranged (similar design can be found in the buildings of the 1910s of  such architects as A. I. Goltsvurm, M. S. Radbil, P. L . Slavkin). However, unlike most of the other architects buildings, courtyard facades, as well as outside, at the level of the first two floors are covered with rustic stone (but more primitive.) There is also a semi-circular risalit of the entrance staircase on Marazlievskaya Street, which led to the proper form of the staircase landings.

All three entrances of the building are decorated in a similar way; however, from the point of view of planning decisions and certain details, they are different. The most representative is the entrance from Marazlievskaya Street side leading to the apartments of a five-storey section only (starting with the first floor, which is accessible via a sluice stairs). The sluice is blocked by an arch vault with caissons and blades made of granite slabs are placed on the walls. Over the blades on the caisson vault there are six identical antique bas-reliefs; two more fragments of bas-reliefs are located near the doorway.

Entrance hall on Marazlievskaya Street

Stair sluice Stair sluice vaults Stair sluice vaults A bas-relief in the sluice Ornament Decorative finishing of the windows over the portal from within Decoration fragment of the authentic door, leading to the stair landing Decoration fragment of the authentic door, leading to the stair landing

Staircase

Stair landing between the lobby and the stairs, a view of the lobby A view of the stairs from the first floor landing Top floor landing Top floor landing A view of the stairs from the first floor landing Pilaster capital Pilaster capital

Stair landings with entrances to the apartments have a large size, but lighting is not enough. In addition to the entrances to two apartments on each floor there is a massive lift door, covered with metal strips and decorated with a simple oval medallion of a plain floral ornament. A similar medallion adorns the passage arch gate. The only surviving to the present day lift door is located on the first floor.

Lift door

General view Medallion

Entrance doors in Margulis’ apartment house are two varieties in width. Their wide option is present only in the entrance hall on Marazlievskaya Street; in Sabanskiy Lane entrances to the residential areas are equipped with doors of ordinary width. Unfortunately, not all doors were preserved: come to present times ones reveal similarities with the doors of rooms of Shestopal’s apartment building on Lev Tolstoy Street, but a similar design was common in the 1910s. On the whole, the doors are restrained in decoration, transom and five oval apertures are glazed, and one of the doors preserved the original (!) stained glass. The fine carving, decorating the door, was fulfilled with great skill.

Apartment doors

General view of the door General view of the door Decoration of three oval apertures Fragment of the carving Fragment of the carving Fragment of the carving Stained glass of a door, probably authentic Fragment of the stained glass

The walls of the entrance hall are covered with ceramic tile on a third of height, such move does not occur anywhere else in the city, as well as the type of tile. This design was common in Europe, but within the Russian Empire was not widespread, although it might be present in apartment houses of St. Petersburg and Moscow. The edges of the tile lining are flat on the landings, and stepped parallel to the stairs. Most of the tile imitates cold grey marble or granite, part of its wall is mounted with, arranged in a row, the tiles with floral patterns (on the stairs are placed stepwise).

Ceramic tile

Stepped composition Stepped composition Tile fragment on the wall of a semicircular landing between flights of stairs Horizontal composition One of the decorated tiles, making upper edge of the coating Fragment of the lower part of the coating

The ceiling is completely covered by a broad raised moulded frieze on the fifth floor which is made more emphatic, due to the presence of caisson fascia as a junction of walls and ceiling.

Frieze and ceiling

Fragment of the ceiling over the landing between flights of stairs Fragment of the ceiling over the landing of the top floor Fragment of the ceiling over the landing of the top floor Frieze fragment Frieze fragment Decorative details of the frieze Cornice fragment

The entrance hall railings reproduce partly fencing elements of some building balconies: the upper part of the railings is a frieze of scrolls identical to insert of the second floor balconies and the front garden fence (in the latter this motif is made on a larger scale), which is interrupted by a vertical composition, reminiscent of a flower or a rod.

Railings

General view Banister, inclined variant Baluster fragment Baluster fragment Baluster fragment Baluster Ornamental insert between the balusters Banister, horizontal variant Banister, horizontal variant

The windows of all the entrance halls have small geometric inserts of yellow glass. In the entrance hall on Marazlievskaya Street, on the top floor, on the entire area of the window there is a stained glass of geometric pattern that has been preserved almost completely. Large windows of the light well, looking at the entrance hall, have been preserved as well (now tightly boarded up as unnecessary).

Window between the first and the third floors

General view Stained glass fragment Stained glass fragment

Stained glass on the top floor

Lower window aperture Stained glass fragment Stained glass fragment Stained glass fragment Stained glass fragment Upper window aperture Stained glass fragment

Light well window

General view General view

It is known as well that in the entrance on Marazlievskaya Street Margulis’ apartment was located, which layout was carried out in two levels. F. L. Pappe, applying such a move was the first of the city architects, who made the innovation come true.

In terms of design, entrances in Sabanskiy Lane are not different from the main one on Marazlievskaya Street. Left-side entrance in the lane is equipped with a long stair hall instead of a stairs lobby, similar to the lobby of the main entrance, vaults and bas-reliefs.

Left-side entrance in Sabanskiy Lane

Stair hall Stair hall Stair hall vaults Bas-relief

The right-side entrance is decorated more interesting. The vaults are flat, but decorated in the same vein. Light windows overlook the passage arch (most of them are today boarded up or painted over, so it's hard to judge how well the entrance lobby was illuminated).

Right-side entrance hall in Sabanskiy Lane

General view of the lobby from the doorway A view of the stairs from the doorway Light window Fragment of the light window decoration Fragment of the light window sash Vaults Vaults General view of the lobby from the staircase General view of the lobby from the staircase Finishing of the lobby wall Double bas-relief Single bas-relief Ornament Ornament

Staircase

General view from the lobby General view A view upwards A view upwards A view of the beam and column A view of the beam and column Column capital Column capital Lower part of the column, covered by metal plates

The staircase is of a slightly oblong, almost square form. A beam between the staircase and the lobby is supported by a massive, square in cross-section, column with cut corners, crowned by the original form capital of geometric shapes. The lower part of the column is covered with metal bands with rough rivets (lift doors are decorated in the same style) that can also be attributed to unique elements of interior decoration. Here and there are remains of tiles, but otherwise the style of the entrance hall is similar to the previous two ones.

Railings

Entrance flight of stairs Carved scroll of the handrail, preserved only in the right—side entrance hall in Sabanskiy Lane Flight of stairs Flight of stairs

Tile

Fragment of the tiling Tile, preserved on the ground floor landing

Windows

Light window of one of the apartments One of the entrance hall windows

Doors

Standard width door, such as in both entrance halls in Sabanskiy Lane Carved decoration

Cornices

Cornice fragment, horizontal variant Stylized heraldic medallion at the junction of the horizontal and stairs flight sections of the cornice Cornice fragment, stairs flight (diagonal) variant

Frieze of the staircase

A view from the top floor landing Corner fragment

In some areas of apartments broad friezes with bas-reliefs depicting putti in scenes of hunting, harvesting fruits and crops, fishing have been preserved in good condition. Ceilings are ornamented like ceilings in the entrance halls, the composition is complicated.

Frieze, ceiling and bas-reliefs in one of the apartments (the entrance hall on Marazlievskaya Street

Frieze fragment Bas-relief depicting fishing Bas-relief depicting harvesting grapes Bas-relief depicting hunting Bas-depicting harvesting wheat crop Corner fragment of the frieze Ornamental fragment of the frieze Rosette

In general, analyzing the number of artistic techniques, a variety of finishing materials, unusual engineering and planning decisions and the degree of preservation of the decoration, the apartment house of Margulis can be attributed to the most outstanding buildings of the 1910s in Odessa.

Centenary history of the house can not be called intense. However, there are interesting pages in it. For example, in 1920 it housed editorial office of the journal «National Economy» — «the monthly organ of the Odessa Province Economic Council.» Later, some of the apartments were transferred to the KGB to place various offices and housing some employees. Next door, in the former Peasant Bank, since the 1920s there was a club of MGB, NKVD and KGB.

 

 

References and Archives

  • «Architects of Odessa». V. Pilyavsky
  • «Architecture of Odessa. Style and time». V. Pilyavsky
  • «Buildings, structures, monuments of Odessa and architects». V. Pilyavsky
  • An article on building in a blog Antique
  • Reference book «All Odessa», 1914

Authors