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Entries / Natural stone

Natural stone

Categories / Architecture/Construction Materials and Industry, Architectural Monuments Restoration

NATURAL STONE. Since the early 18th century, Putilovo slab limestone has been used in construction (quarried by Putilovskaya Mountain near the mouth of the Volkhov River). Solid, even-coloured wax-red and yellow flagstone was delivered from Oland Island (Sweden) and Estland. Since the first quarter of the 18th century, the lime tufa of yellowish-grey colour was used, the so-called pudost stone (the name originates from Pudost Village near Gatchina) for making garden sculptures. Since the 1760s, granite was widely used for decorating edifices and buildings. In 1763-68, the first stone bridges were faced with pink granite, as were the walls of the St. Peter and Paul Fortress in 1779-89. Since 1762, the embankments of Neva, minor rivers and canals were 'encased' in stone. Finnish pink granite, rapakivi, was quarried on the islands and the coast of the Gulf of Finland near Vyborg, Kotka and Friedrichsgam (present-day Hamina, Finland). The Alexander Column was made of Friedrichsgam granite. For the needs of St. Petersburg, natural stone of an especially fine grain was quarried from a relatively small coastal area by the Gulf of Finland; the vyborgite (after Vyborg) and piterlite (after the bay Peterlahti, or Piterlaks). In 1997-98, samples of this granite were bought in Finland for paving sidewalks of Admiralteysky Avenue and the Spit of Vasilievsky Island. In the Neo-Classical period, serdobol grey granite, white and clouded marble, as well as marble-like limestone came into use as architectural decoration. Sredobol granite (the material used for the New Hermitage atlantes) was quarried on the coast and islands of Ladoga Lake near Serdobol (currently, Sortavala). The even coloration of granite beautifully sets off bright colours, which is why it was used in a contrasting blend with other ornamental substances in the building of Mramorny (Marble) Palace, Mikhailovsky Castle and Nevskie Gates of St. Peter and Paul Fortress etc. Later, the effect of the contrast of granite basement and portico pillars facing with the colour of wall plaster was used on the Nikolaevsky Palace facades. In the late 18th century, the quarrying of clouded marble began near Onega Lake and Ladoga Lake. Tivdia marble was considered the best (named after Tivdia Village in Onega lakeside); remarkably intense, translucent, it came in a variety of patterns: pale pink, red-brown, pink crimson-clouded marble. These varieties of marble were quarried in 7-8-metre blocks. In 1769, two Italian masons were sent to Tivdia Village for the exploitation of the deposit, and several groups of workers with their families were brought there from Ural for the same purpose. Tivdia marble was used for making pillars, pilasters, and decoration elements for the facades and interiors of the Marble Palace; fragments of the decoration of St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Winter palace, and Alexandrovsky (Marble) Hall of the Ethnography Museum. In 1807, a plant with a watermill, designed for ten stone saws with compartments for marble sawing and grinding, as well as for hand polishing was built in Tivdia Village. The ready stone was brought to St. Petersburg from the factory by water. The unique black-and-white parallel-banded stone was quarried near Serdobol on a small island Juven (Joensuu) composed entirely of marble, at the mouth of the Janisjoki River. The marble was used for small architectural elements. Near Ruskeala Village on the Ruskolka River, five varieties of Ruskeala marble were quarried; the most valuable of them being grey-lilac with grey and white streaks, grey with green and yellow beam inclusions, banded white-grey marble (today, the quarry has been made into a museum). For the first time, this marble was used for facing of the Mikhailovsky Castle's southern facade, later it was employed for facing the walls of St. Isaac Cathedral (serving as a light background against which pink granite columns stood out). At the time of early Neo-Classicism, the combination of marble and granite was characteristic of minor architectural forms (milestones, obelisks, the basements of monuments). In the first third of the 19th century, pudost stone and pink Finnish granite predominated over other types in construction. Pudost stone, related to travertine, served as the material for pillars and walls of Kazan Cathedral, sculptures in the ensemble of the Spit of Vasilievsky Island, while the basement of the Stock Exchange building, the plinths of Rostral columns and the balustrades of the descents to the Neva River are faced with pink and grey Finnish granite. C.I. Rossi, when creating the ensemble of the ministerial buildings on Palace Square, used granites of different shades for facing the basements of the General Staff and the Ministry of Defence (grey colour), the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (pink granite). The solid blocks of Finnish granite were used for the building of the stylobata and 104 exterior pillars of St. Isaac Cathedral. The last significant examples of using different stones traditional for St. Petersburg of the 18th and the first half of the 19th century, was the monument to Nicholas I (Serdobol granite, Carrara marble, Shoksha quartzite) and so-called Maly Mramorny Palace (Minor Marble palace) (the mansion of Count N.A. Kushelev-Bezborodko) on 3 Gagarinskaya Street (Tivdia marble and Ruskeala marble). After the building of the railway system, the varieties of stone traditionally used in Western Europe also became readily available (the government deliberately reduced the quotas of stone import to St. Petersburg). For instance, the facade of Yusupov Mansion on 42 Liteyny Avenue, was decorated with Bremen sandstone. Carved sandstone from Germany and Poland was used for facing of the fronts of the Russian Bank of Foreign commerce and Russo-Asiatic bank, the Museum of Baron A.L. Stieglitz Technical Drawing School. Radom sandstone from Poland was used for the facing of Kelch Mansion. The front face of Faberge company house on 24 Bolshaya Morskaya Street was faced with pink banded granite from Gangut cape. The walls of Church of the Virgin Mary of Lourdes in Kovensky Lane, as well as the walls of Buddhist temple in Staraya Derevnya are decorated with two varieties of pink granite quarried at Ladoga lakeside. Grey granite from Nystadt was used for decorating the facade of the building of Russian Commercial and Industrial Bank. Talk-chlorite slate (pot stone, or soapstone), imported from the Nunnanlahti Villlage quarry in Finland became a favourite decorative material for Northern Art Nouveau masters: it was used for reliefs of I.B. Liedval's house on 1-3 Kamennoostrovsky Avenue, the houses of M.B. Voeykova on 72 Nevsky Prospect; the houses of A.F. Bubyr on 11 Stremyannaya Street, and many buildings.

References: Зискинд М. С. Декоративно-облицовочные камни. Л., 1989; Булах А. Г., Абакумова Н. Б. Каменное убранство главных улиц Ленинграда. СПб., 1993.

A. F. Veksler.

Bubyr Alexey Fedorovich
Kushelev-Bezborodko Nikolay Alexandrovich, Count
Lidval I.B.
Nicholas I, Emperor
Stieglitz Alexander Ludwigovich, Baron
Voeykova M.V.

Bolshaya Morskaya St./Saint Petersburg, city, house 24
Dvortsovaya Square/Saint Petersburg, city
Gagarinskaya St./Saint Petersburg, city, house 3
Kamennoostrovsky Ave/Saint Petersburg, city, house 3
Kamennoostrovsky Ave/Saint Petersburg, city, house 1
Kovensky Lane/Saint Petersburg, city
Liteiny Ave/Saint Petersburg, city, house 42
Nevsky prospect/Saint Petersburg, city, house 72
Stremyannaya St./Saint Petersburg, city, house 11

Зискинд М. С. Декоративно-облицовочные камни. Л., 1989
Булах А. Г., Абакумова Н. Б. Каменное убранство главных улиц Ленинграда. СПб., 1993

The subject Index
St. Peter and Paul fortress
St. Peter and Paul fortress
Alexander Column
Marble Palace
Mikhailovsky Castle
Nikolaevsky Palace (Palace of Labour)
St. Isaac's Cathedral
Winter Palace
Russian Ethnographical Museum
Kazan Cathedral
Rostral Columns
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mansion of Yusupova (42 Liteiny Avenue)
Russian Bank for Foreign Trade
Russian-Asian Bank
Stieglitz Central Technical Drawing School
Kelch Mansion
Buddhist Temple
Russian Bank of Commerce and Industry
Lidval, House of
Bubyr's House

Building Materials (entry)

BUILDING MATERIALS. The production of building materials in St. Petersburg started soon after the foundation of the city. In 1705, brick factories already functioned along the Neva River in the area of the Ivanovsky rapids