Fonvizin Brothers Manor

Nikolai Galkin / TASS
"On the corner of Maly Kiselny Pereulok (Maly Kiselny Lane) and Rozhdestvensky Bulvar (Rozhdestvensky Boulevard), the horse tram car stops across the magnificent mansion, and two menacing lions, guarding the expensive carved doors finished in bronze, look at the passengers from the entrance." This was how this building was described in Vladimir Gilyarovsky's seminal work Moscow and Muscovites.

And here is a poem by Nikolay Nekrasov:

In happy Moscow, at Neglinnaya Ulitsa (Neglinnaya Street),
With lions and circular treillage,
An ancient and lonely house sits
Embellished with coats of arms.


The lions are long gone, but the old house still stands. Its most famous owner was Alexander Fonvizin, the father of Decembrists Mikhail and Ivan, who organized the meetings of the Union for Prosperity here. Mikhail's wife, Natalya Fonvizina, nee Apukhtina, was considered by Moscow society the prototype of Pushkin's Tatyana from Eugene Onegin. She really proved her loyalty to her husband, following him in exile to Siberia.

The house's next owner, the friend of composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, baroness Nadezhda von Meck, had reconstructed the building, connecting it to the free-standing annex, embellishing it with stucco work and a Neoclassical portico – and the modest nobleman estate had acquired the look that was more appropriate for its historical importance. Today the building houses the State Fisheries Committee of the Russian Federation.