Cracks can be seen in the facade of the four-story historic building in the center of Moscow, but it is only when you look at the side that you can see the calamitous state it is in. Part of the roof has fallen in after a fire hit the building last December.
Since then the building has been at the center of a struggle between preservationists and the city department that is supposed to protect the building.
Fyodor Bogatyryov from preservation organization Arkhnadzor brought a suit against the city property department and the city cultural heritage committee for their failure to act to save or even attempt to repair the building since the fire. The suit was rejected by the Zamoskvoretsky District Court last week.
The court will explain its reasoning Wednesday, and Arkhnadzor will almost certainly appeal the decision.
When activists from Arkhnadzor went inside the building after the fire, they discovered a hidden gem.
“The cellar is 17th century, the first floor is 18th century, and the second floor is 19th century,” Bogatyryov said. Nineteenth-century interiors are preserved on the first and second floors, including intricate oak balusters and stucco ceilings. All of it would have been destroyed if the building’s investor’s original plans went ahead.
Before they thought of bringing the case, Arkhnadzor appealed to the cultural heritage committee, held meetings, picketed, but nothing was done, Bogatyryov said. “We decided on more radical methods,” he said.
It was not just the fire that had damaged the building, one of a series of blazes that have hit old Moscow buildings in the last year. The water used to put out the fire turned to ice and, with no repairs done since, has melted causing serious damage to the building. With part of the roof falling in, the building has been exposed to the elements for more than four months.
- Kevin O'Flynn, Arkhnadzor Sues City Over Heritage Neglect | Arts & Ideas | The Moscow Times The Moscow Times, http://www.themoscowtimes.com/arts_n_ideas/article/arkhnadzor-sues-city-over-heritage-neglect/405408.html#no (last visited May 6, 2010).