History of Stepnov House (Hotel Vera) in St Petersburg Russia
The unique history of Hotel Vera as an Art Nouveau Masterpiece
Hotel Vera occupies about 2/3 of the renovated 1903 Art Nouveau building, known as Stepnov’s House, which has been entered into the St Petersburg Registry of Architectural Masterpieces. One may deduce that Mr. Stepnov was a self-made man who amassed a fortune in trade and who came to St Petersburg from Yaroslavskaya Guberniya after the end of serfdom in 1861.
The building is located in the area called “Peski” (Sands) – due to the soil composition here which is remarkable for a city built mostly on marsh. In this area were located two settlements of the elite Imperial Guard regiments:
Kavalergardsky (Cavalry) and Preobrazensky (Infantry). The settlements were essentially self-contained, with barracks, non-commissioned officers’ family housing, shops, bakeries, riding schools, churches, hospitals, etc. Close to these military settlements, to the north and to the west, residential palaces of the nobility were built since the early 18th century.
Less glamorous people settled to the east and to the south. This area was heavily built up in the late 19th – early 20th centuries with so-called “income houses” – large, well-crafted apartment houses that became quite a success both architecturally and commercially.
Hotel Vera Façade
The façade of Stepnov’s House is the most interesting part of the building from an architectural point of view. It exhibits charm and beauty of Art Nouveau despite the fact that it needs major restoration, which will be undertaken once the additional wing is constructed on the 8th Sovietskaya Street next to Stepnov’s House.
Stepnov’s House Restoration
The “Income” houses built in the late 19th – early 20th centuries were famous for their abundance of elements of interior décor, especially in the apartments along the façade. All 12 flats in Stepnov’s House are façade apartments, and there were hardwood floors, tiled fireplaces, hardwood doors, molded ceilings and walls in all twelve. The stairways have intricate railings and stained glass windows, and each apartment has at least one bay window or balcony. Most of the décorative elements were lost over the years, but whatever remained has been or will be restored, and some missing elements have been recreated.
Paintings and Graphics in the Hotel
Most of the artwork in the Hotel has been authored by three Leningrad / St Petersburg artists:
Dimitry Popov, graduated from the Academy of Arts in 1939, later became a Professor of the Academy. Well known theater costume designer, worked in Alexandrijsky Theater, Big Drama Theater, TUZ and in many other theaters around the City and the Country
Vladimir Rubinstein, graduated from the Academy of Arts in 1949; dedicated many of his works to the history of the City, mostly period of the Peter the Great. He was invited by Yuri German to illustrate the first edition of his masterpiece “The Young Russia” - «Россия Молодая».
Hachatur Bely graduated from Erevan Art College and then from the Schtiglitz Academy of Applied and industrial Arts in 1990. H. Bely works in St. Petersburg: his works are in many City galleries and museums, and in private collections around the World. His workshop is not far away from the Hotel