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How the fairytale house of the glass king appeared in St. Petersburg: Frank's mansion and its wonderful stained-glass windows
How the fairytale house of the glass king appeared in St. Petersburg: Frank's mansion and its wonderful stained-glass windows

This beautiful restored building, somewhat similar to a fairytale house, is not known to everyone. Frank's mansion on Vasilievsky Island is one of the little-known architectural masterpieces of St. Petersburg. But this magnificent house has unique architecture and a very interesting history! And you should definitely tell about it.

Home for the "glass king"

The house was built for Adolf Frank, one of the founders of the Northern Glass Industry Society (later the M. Frank & Co. trading house). It was erected in just two years.

This is how the mansion looked about a hundred years ago. / Archive photo

The Prussian subjects Adolf and Max Frank who lived in St. Petersburg were the richest merchants of that time. The Northern Society owned two plots on the 21st line of Vasilievsky Island. A large glass factory and a stained glass workshop were also located here.

At the beginning of the last century, the Frank brothers in a short time practically removed foreign competitors from the market, becoming monopolists in the sale of mirrors, various types of stained-glass windows and decorative glass in the north-west of our country. Their products were superior in quality to their foreign counterparts, in addition, “M. Frank & Co. did not raise prices.

A masterpiece of northern Art Nouveau. / Archival photo

The construction of the mansion for the industrialist Frank was completed in 1900. The author of the project is the architect Wilhelm-Johann-Christian (in the Russian version - Vasily) Schaub, who is recognized as one of the founders of Art Nouveau in St. Petersburg architecture. By the way, Frank's mansion is a unique example of a low-rise private house designed by Schaub, because he usually worked on large multi-storey mansions. He rarely took on work on small private houses (especially of this style).

This is what a house looks like today (detail)

By the way, Schaub was also the author of the interior decoration, including unique stained-glass windows (how can the head of the glass empire be without them!). Alas, these stained-glass windows, which, as you might guess, were made by the Frank brothers, have not survived to this day.

The building is designed in the shape of the letter "L". The main facade has two projections, which are asymmetrical and end with triangular tongs. On the right side there is an arch, which is the main entrance to the building.

Frank's house in the 20th century looks like this..Photo:

At the front of the house, you can see many interesting details - for example, stucco molding and a funny mask. The location of the windows and the variety of their shapes and sizes are also interesting.

It is worth telling separately about the hall in the merchant's house (now it is the assembly hall). It is connected to the dining room (later the hall of the Academic Council was made in it), which opens onto the courtyard with a glazed protruding part. A chic stained glass window depicting women harvesting fruits was placed in the dining room window. This work repeated the work of the Austrian painter J. Goller.

Main staircase..Archive photo This is how the house looked inside. / Archive photo

Soviet years and our time

After the revolution, in the early 1920s, the mansion was given to the Research and Development Institute for Mechanical Processing of Mineral Resources (abbreviated as “Mechanobra”).

During the war, Frank's house was seriously damaged by an aerial bomb. The surviving photographs from that time show that almost ruins remain of the building.

The houses were hit by a bomb

After the war, the mansion was restored by the staff of the institute, but some of its details, alas, were lost.

In 1995, a museum of minerals was opened in the building, which displayed the largest collection of natural treasures in Russia. Unfortunately, the museum closed 11 years ago. Also in the 1990s, several companies and the Consulate General of Norway were opened here.And since 1995, the mansion has housed the Faculty of Medicine of St. Petersburg State University.

Mask before restoration..Photo: House before restoration Fragment of a building with a mask after restoration

In 2007, the building was modernly renovated, now inside the house there is little reminiscent of the pre-revolutionary luxury for which the mansion of the richest merchant was famous. The outer part of the building has also undergone renovation (restoration).

The mansion after restoration

Now Frank's mansion looks neat, but, of course, outwardly it is somewhat different from the "original". However, even in the updated form, you can feel the spirit of the pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg Art Nouveau.

By the way, connoisseurs of the architecture of the northern capital will certainly be interested to know about how a building with bats and owls appeared in St. Petersburg. We are talking about the House of City Institutions on Sadovaya Street, which has an equally interesting history and destiny.

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