The City Mansion in Minsk
Palaces, manors, castles
This old building had been known to many city dwellers as the draft board of the regional recruitment office. It was operating from postwar period right up to 2004. And only in recent years the dwellers of Minsk could discover the remarkable history of this ancient building. It appears, the city mansion erected in palazzo style of exquisite and chaste classicism was known even in the 18th century. If to have a look at the city plan of Minsk of 1793 one can notice that the mansion consisted of the house itself and two symmetrically located outbuildings with the facade of the house to form the so called «court d`honneur» - the main courtyard. There was the forged fencing with wide gates that faced the square in front of the mansion.
The archives prove that Polish nobleman Earl Mikhail Pshezdetsky was the first owner of the building. It was he who built the house near the Upper market square known as Liberty Square at present. Then he sold it to Andrei Stankevich, a prominent chemist and landlord. Afterwards the mansion came into the hands of Yuri Kobylinsky who was collector and writer. At that time the building was turned into a private art gallery and his collection of paintings became available to all the city dwellers. Here lived a playwright and poet Vintsent Dunin-Martsinkevich. In the middle of the 19th century the mansion was in the possession of Leopold Delpatse, was Mayor of Minsk at that time.
After the revolution the building passed into the ownership of various state and institutional offices.
Changing the owners it got alterations too. Up to this day only dwelling house and the southern wing have survived of all the building.
When the restoration works began the restorers desired to reconstruct the very atmosphere and details of the mansion life of that time. It is known that the aristocracy admired the French fashion in the 18th century, that’s why the restorers were scrupulous searching and selecting only genuine home furnishings. Nowadays one can find old interiors in four halls of the mansion: in large and small lounges, in a parlour and a library. There is the unique glass case for the French tableware in the large lounge. The glass case was produced by Gambs Brothers` manufacture who supplied furniture for the Tsar`s court. There is a corner stand on the opposite side; it was performed in the second Rococo style that was urgent for the middle of the 19th century. The restoration of the furniture had lasted for three years except the chairs that couldn’t be restored. They just “were sealed” thus making impossible to sit on them while the chairs were like that.
The beautiful tapestry with the plot of a well-known artist Guido Reni of that time immediately catches the eye.
There are also a lot of pieces of old tableware in the lounges. There are too many things to list; this is a floor standing Japanese vase of the 18th century, Chinese porcelain, a Saxon coffee-pot, a Persian chalice, Chinese vases, an English gravy boat, soup tureens, Russian dishes… There one can also find a Swedish cheese slicer, a cake spatula, dishware for burgher sausages and beer, glasses and shtoffs, a bird salt shaker, a honeypot with a crystal spoon. Having viewed the whole building it is certainly possible to imagine and get the clear idea of the life of aristocracy in Minsk at that time.
After the reconstruction works had been completed the mansion acquired the lost elements of architectural décor and building’s facade, fragments of fresco painting, rebuilt vaulted ceilings. Enchanting décor has been fully renewed and the tile oven got restored.
In 2012, it was decided to open the art gallery of Mikhail Savitsky in the mansion.
The City Mansion of the 18th century will always be an attractive place for tourists. It enables to engage with the history of Minsk and highlight the mansion life in Minsk as well as intersection of many urban cultures of the centuries that passed.