I didn’t have time to continue with my historical posts for the past two weeks, and now I hope to use my mini-semi-vacation to catch up with these writings. In my last post, I showed the pictures of the former Anglican Mission building where I lived as a child.
As I already mentioned, I do not have pictures of our apartment’s inside, but I will try my best to describe it (edits from Igor and Anna are welcomed :)).My grandaunt received the “order” for this apartment sometime in the 1920s when she worked as a reporter for Smena – Leningrad Young Communists newspaper. All the sources tell me that the building was abandoned since 1919, and I have no idea why it sat unoccupied or so long when there was such a shortage of real estate. But my grandaunt Fania told me that when she entered it for the first time, it looked like the occupants left in a hurry and that there was a lot of furniture left behind, and even the priest’s library.
I do not know where the books went. As for the furniture, most likely, it was gone during the Seige of Leningrad. I remember only two pieces of furniture that survived. One was a “lomber table” – a small table for the Ombre card game, which was used as a phone stand, and I didn’t even know what it was until my grandaunt told me. The second piece was an English redwood armchair, just slightly darker than the one on that image.
Update: I found online the exact image of how it looked like, only made of a different wood:
Two more armchairs could be potential survivors as well, but I am not that sure about them.
Here is a picture of the courtyard from the previous post, with our apartment being on the right side on the second floor.
You would enter a door on the right (you almost can’t see it, it’s right after that black car). There were wide stone stairs that led to the first-floor landing. The back entrance to the department of tourism was on the left, and only the people who worked there were allowed to enter. To the right, there was a door with a lock, which led to the two apartments. On the first floor, there was apartment #7, the former servants’ quarters, which the janitor’s family occupied. The second door on the first floor (also with the lock) led to our apartment #8. To be precise, it led to the stairs – two flights of stairs. These stairs would lead to the apartment itself. Imagine that you live in a two-story house, but you can’t enter the first floor. Instead, when you enter the house, you have a separate door to the stairs, and you live on the second floor only. That would be the closest to how our apartment looked.
After you climb these two flights of wooden (painted with a dark brown paint) stairs, you would find yourself in the huge hallway. It was twenty-five meters long and two meters wide, which gives you 50 square meters in total (almost 500 sq. feet). The ceiling was 4.75 meters (15.6 feet) high.
All the rooms were on the left side of the hallway (the right one was the wall adjoined to the next building).
The first room was the bathroom with the bathtub from the Anglican Mission times, made of cast iron and placed on the four brass lion paws.
The next one was the kitchen. My grandaunt told me that the first of the rooms was a “blue parlor,” which was later converted into a kitchen, but since there was an old tile-covered wood-burning stove in the corner, it seems to be an original kitchen. I do not remember this stove being ever used; most likely, it was never used after the war. We used its surface as a place to keep different kitchen utensils and devices. Next to the kitchen, there was a smaller room where my father lived, and where he and mom continued to live when they married, and where mom and I lived after my parents divorced. This room had a second door, which led to the next room, but this door was never used.
The next three rooms were occupied by my great-grandmother Baba Gitia, her daughter Baba Fania, Fania’s daughter Aunt Kima, and Kima’s son Dodik. Who of them lived in which room has changed several times.
The hallway ended with the door to the Church, but since we could not go there, a large dead-end led nowhere. A long time before I was born, a curtain was placed to separate this dead-end from the rest of the hallway, and it became a storage of everything-which-we-do-not-want-to-throw-away. It was called “The End Of The Hallway.”
Since I can go on for hours describing this old apartment, I think I will stop for now 🙂
My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.