Another article of special project “Legends of Voronezh” is dedicated to the House of Doctor Martynov (55, Karl Marx Street). The owners of the building with 250-year long history have changed in different historical periods, so some local historians call it Nechaev’s house or the House of the Chief of Police. It is the oldest building on the street.

A monument in a monument

Martynov’s house is a building with a secret. Historians had long thought that the Empire style monument was created in the XIX century. However, Voronezh local historian and writer Pavel Popov, the author of a book named “Zdravstvuy, Stary Dom!” (Hello, Old House!) assumes that behind the Empire walls hides an older building.


Photo – Yevgenia Yemelyanova

This theory was confirmed in late 1980s during survey and restoration works. As it turned out, the basement of the building contained intact ancient walls from the XVIII century with bricked up windows and doorways. So the birth date of the monument is believed to be early 1770s

The first owners

The first owners were the Nechaev merchant family – father Timofei Nechaev Senior and his two sons - “Big Ivan” and “Little Ivan”. The Nechaevs set a tallow-melting business running and sold tallow and wool in large cities including Moscow and St. Petersburg, traded manufactured goods. Merchants of the Nechaev family had been performing the duties of city officials for several generations. Ivan Nechaev Junior was a burgomaster of the City Hall and an eminent citizen of Voronezh.

– A burgomaster is a word that originated from German term Bürgermeister which literally means “chief of a city”. It is the official position of a head of city’s municipal government, sort of today’s city mayor, - local historian and journalist Mikhail Steinberg explained to the RIA “Voronezh” reporter.

From 1807 to 1810, the post of the Voronezh city head had been held by Little Ivan’s son Timofei, later - his grandson Nikolai who was entrusted with this major post during the hunger in 1833. The merchant organized a large scale bread donation rally. He appealed for handing a monthly amount of 3.6 thousand pound of baked bread to the poor for 4 kopecks per pound and 480 pounds of bread for free to the most poor. The merchant’s charitable initiative became known in the capital, and his example was followed in other cities. The merchant himself had donated a considerable amount of money to the poor.


Photo – Yevgenia Yemelyanova

The success of Nikolai Nechaev’s good deeds was so ringing that the rumors of it reached Emperor Nikolai I, and the Emperor had honored him with gratitude three times. In 1834, the Emperor awarded the Voronezh merchant with a golden medal on the ribbon of the Order of St. Anna with an inscription that said “For Usefulness”. For the merchant, charity became a step necessary for entering nobility.

At the time, the territory of Nechaev family’s estate was enormous – behind the main building there were numerous annexes and structures. The limits of the estate had reached today’s Friedrich Engels Street. It is during Nikolai Nechaev’s time, in 1820, that the reconstruction of the estate began which led to the creation of its П-shaped design preserved to this day. The exterior of the building also had changed: it was rebuilt in the Empire style, the main frontispiece was supplemented with a high mezzanine and a porch with Corinthian columns. The name of the architect is unknown.

– This is one of the few Voronezh Empire style monuments preserved to this day. Its look is similar to Tulinov’s House at 30, Revolution Avenue, - local historian Olga Rudeva noted.


Photo – Yevgenia Yemelyanova

House of the Police Chief

In late 1850-s, the Nechaevs leased the house to the city police and the troop accommodation commission.

– This is namely where the office of Police Chief Fyodor Kolinyi used to be. This is where the second name of the house – the House of the Police Chief – originated from, - Olga Rudeva explained.


Photo – Yevgenia Yemelyanova

In 1872, the house was purchased by a merchant, hereditary honorary citizen yufud Ivaz who owned a smoking tobacco production plant. Under his ownership, Nechaev’s House was expanded with several annexes with staircases, the number of entrances and exits was increased.

Oppositionists’ headquarters

In late XIX century, the Nechaev’s estate had turned into a center of attraction for oppositionists. Its owner was Sergei Martynov, a doctor, a noble, a political figure and a writer. As follows from doctor’s background, he was a secret member of the executive committee of underground party “People’s Will”, he was friends with revolutionaries Vera Figner and Andrei Zhelyabov.


Photo – Yevgenia Yemelyanova

“People’s Will” was established in 1879, after the split of the “Land and Liberty” movement and the decay of terroristic group “Freedom or Death”. Its members tried to force the government to carry out democratic reforms. One of their fighting methods was terror. The revolutionaries prepared an attempt of assassination of Emperor Alexander II. Their first attempt of regicide in the Winter Palace had failed. On March 1 of 1881, after thorough preparations, the terrorists implemented the second attempt in St. Petersburg after which the Tsar died from the received wounds. At the end of the same year, Doctor Martynov was arrested for involvement in terrorist attacks and imprisoned at the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg. Hanging was replaced with hard labor in exile in Siberia where the doctor spent eight years.


Photo – Yevgenia Yemelyanova

In 1890, the Martynov family moved to Stavropol and soon received permission to return to the Perlishin estate in the village of Dmitrievskoe near Voronezh. After that, Martynov purchased a luxurious mansion on Sadovaya Street with his wife’s money.

In 1902, Doctor Sergei Martynov was again arrested upon a personal decree from Pleve, the Minister of Internal Affairs. It was caused by a scandalous speech at the session of Voronezh Municipal Committee for the needs of agricultural production where Martynov together with teacher Nikolai Bunakov criticized the political and economical regime in the country. Sergei Martynov was exiled to the Arkhangelsk Region under police supervision for three years. After returning to Voronezh, the doctor once again settled in his mansion. His neighbor was city’s Police Chief Dmitry Norov who lived in the annex of the building. Local historian Pavel Popov notes that the Martynov and Norov families maintained a good relationship.

Doctor Martynov remained the owner of the luxurious estate until 1919. After the White Army was driven out of Voronezh, the doctor fled to Crimea where he died from a stroke. The estate was confiscated by the Red Army.

Young Pioneer Palace

During the Great Patriotic War, the monument had been bombed – the roof was broken, but the porch and the front part of the mezzanine remained.


Photo – bvf.ru

The monument restoration project was developed by Voronezh architect Alexander Mironov who faced the task of adapting the monument to Stalin’s Empire style. The architect rebuilt the remains of side annexes – they were replaced by two new symmetrical annexes with staircases and balconies. Mironov changed the porch of the house and reduced the columns by a whole capital.

In early 1950s, a new page in history began for the Martynov House – the building was handed to the Young Pioneer Palace which prior to that had been taking shelter in a two-storey annex nearby.


Photo – bvf.ru

- I used to go to the Young Pioneer Palace. When I was a child, it was a large ornate building, Olga Rudeva, local historian and tour guide, recollected.

By 1953, more than 1,000 Voronezh schoolchildren attended the Palace. Drama and musical coteries, an art studio, designing and chess coteries were located there. The opening of the Palace took place on March 20, 1955.

The Palace of the Pioneers in Voronezh is opening after the reconstruction today. Some of its rooms have undergone significant changes. The stage in the auditorium has been enlarged, a space for the orchestra has been organized, and special rooms for young actors have been arranged. The walls of the hall are marbled,” a newspaper article of that time says.

Later, a young cosmonauts club, an international friendship club, circles of young local historians, electricians, aircraft modelers and ship modelers appeared in the Palace. It even had its own theater (named after Pavlik Morozov), a film studio and a planetarium.

- We could not make out, for whom the luxurious side entrances and balconies were provided, as they never functioned. Everyone entered the building from the rear facade. In the right wing of the building a beautiful staircase led to the second floor, to the door that was close to the art studio. The studio had a door to the balcony facing the Mironov facade arch. But both doors were always tightly locked with drawback locks, and it was strictly forbidden to the children to open them, Pavel Popov, who studied in the Palace’s art studio and the photography club as a schoolboy.


Photo – Yevgenia Yemelyanova

The entrance to the Palace of the Pioneers was from the yard. There was also a side staircase, but it was very rarely used.

- The ladder from the yard – one can say, the airstairs – was almost vertical and led to the second and third floors, Mikhail Steinberg, who attended the photography club in the early 1970s said. – There was a pioneer alley from the entrance group past the today’s Chamber Theater and to the wing. The wing housed the second half of the Palace of the Pioneers. There were a very cozy room with a very good stage and clubs. Tennis courts were located to the left.


Photo – Yevgenia Yemelyanova

The attraction of the Palace of the Pioneers, which appeared after the war, is the sculptures of Lenin and Stalin near the lawn at the building’s main facade.

- The same type Ilyich was sitting on a bench in the Aircraft Builders Palace of Culture. Such sculptures were made by a template. It was a type casting: a frame was made of a metal rod, which became the basis of a sculpture made of concrete, or even of cement, Mikhail Shteinberg says.


Photo – bvf.ru

As the townspeople recollect, the leaders were practically full-sized or even larger. In the Post-Stalin Thaw Epoch, as they say, Stalin was cut off, and Lenin remained alone.

New history of the Palace

In 1988, the Young Pioneers Palace moved to a new building on Ploshchad Detey. The building-monument started to undergo the restoration, which changed its appearance again. The side staircases were lost, the weather vane disappeared from the roof. At the same time, the hypothesis of local historian Pavel Popov was confirmed that the house was built in the XVIII century, and the portico with columns was added in the first half of the XIX century.


Photo – Valentin Kotyukh/bvf.ru

It was planned to organize the Museum of the History of the Voronezh Komsomol in the building. But the collapse of the Soviet Union prevented it. After the restoration, from 1993 to 2001, Martynov’s House housed the Regional Committee for Culture. Now it is occupied by the Office of the Federal Antimonopoly Service. The entrance to the memorial house is on the side. As local historian Olga Rudeva noted, an ancient brass door pull with a lock survived on the door.


Photo – Yevgenia Yemelyanova

- Elements of antiquity are rare to be openly seen on Voronezh streets, Olga Rudeva added.

The territory adjoining Martynov’s House is changing before our eyes. In 2014, the modern building of the Voronezh Chamber Theater appeared next to the monument. A café has risen on the left side of the building. Local historians remember that until 2013 there were two residential houses in the backyard. Sheds adjoining the old red brick wall were next to them.


Photo – Yevgenia Yemelyanova

- The houses were under protection. When the construction of the cafe started, the people were resettled, the sheds were demolished, and the wall to which they adjoined, unexpectedly showed the post-war inscription: “We will restore the institutions of culture and dwellings of Voronezh residents under the leadership of Stalin!” This happened in the year of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Voronezh, in 2013. This wall was an artifact of history, which showed the escalation of the spirit of Voronezh residents, Olga Rudeva said.

Apparently, the inscription appeared before the reconstruction of Martynov’s House. The wall with the inscription, unfortunately, has not survived in our time.

- The wall fragment had to be cut off and stored – let our descendants figure it out, Olga Rudeva believes.

Martynov’s House itself is waiting for the next reconstruction in 2018 and 2019, which will be held in two stages. 24 million rubles will be allocated from the federal budget for these purposes.


Photo – Yevgenia Yemelyanova