Traditional wooden houses, many featuring exquisite carvings and craftsmanship, are falling into decay across Russia because of neglect, lack of funds and an exodus from the countryside to the cities.
In the village of Cherevkovo near Arkhangelsk in the far north, Tatyana lives in a wooden house that is more than 120 years old – when stripping wallpaper, she once came across a piece of newspaper with a story about 19th century German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. The mansion was built in traditional peasant style for a merchant family called the Gusevs, who were evicted from their properties after the 1917 Russian Revolution. It is still quite well preserved, featuring beautiful carvings on its facades, bespoke doors and painted interiors.
Alexander Morozov, director of the local history museum in the town of Borovsk in Kaluga region, southwest of Moscow, says houses have been built from wood in Russia since ancient times.
“Wooden huts, wooden churches and chapels, wooden mills on the rivers. Only very wealthy citizens built on brick foundations,” he says.
“The quality of work and the skills of the craftsmen were such that an ordinary peasant hut was like a Lego construction set. It was possible without a single nail to put together and dismantle a house to transfer it quickly to a new place… Nails were simply not needed.” […]