Former Service Building of the Marble Palace in St. Petersburg to be Auctioned

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The Russian Auction House (Росси́йский аукцио́нный до́м РАД) have announced plans to auction the former service building of the Marble Palace in St. Petersburg.

The former service building or service wing, is situated on the opposite side of the courtyard of the Marble Palace, where Paolo Troubetzkoy’s famous equestrian monument of Emperor Alexander III (1909) is located. The Marble Palace complex is situated on Ulitsa Millionnaya, backing the Neva River.

The service wing was built in the early classicism style by the Russian architect Pyotr Egorovich Egorov in 1780-1787. simultaneously with the Marble Palace (1768–1785). The original appearance of the building is best represented in the paintings of the time, including “View of the Palace Embankment” by F. Ya. Alekseyev in 1794 (photo below) or in the painting by B. Patersen in 1806.

At first the building was two-story, painted yellow. The second floor of the building housed the apartments of courtiers, kitchens, workshops, and various ancillary services. There were also apartments for guests, and rooms for hosting luncheons and tea parties. The first floor housed horse stables and carriages, as well as a saddle shop (for repairing the harness), and a blacksmith workshop.

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View of the Palace Embankment. 1794. Artist: Fyodor Yakovlevich Alekseyev (1753-1824)

The redevelopment of the service wing was conceived for the marriage of the new owner of the Marble Palace – Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich (1827-1892), the second son of Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855). The Russian architect Alexander Pavlovich Bryullov (1798-1877) added a third floor, and a frieze, which consisted of battle scenes on historical subjects involving horses. The model was the frieze of the Greek Parthenon, and depicted 39 human figures dressed in the uniforms of ancient Greece and 33 figures of horses.

The last owner of the Marble Palace complex was Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich (1858-1915). 

In 1917 the Marble Palace and the Service building became state property. After 1917 the building was converted into a hostel for scientists. From 1919 to 1926, the famous Russian poet Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) with her second husband, Assyriologist Vladimir Kazimirovich Shileyko (1891-1930) lived in a room facing the Field of Mars and Suvorov Square.

In 1932-1933 a fourth floor was added to the former Service Building. During the Soviet years, it was used for educational purposes, and from 2011, the North-West State Correspondence Technical University.

The current owner has suggested that the building would be suitable as a luxury 5-star hotel.

© Paul Gilbert. 18 March 2019