Astashovo Ornate Mansion UPDATE (near Chukhloma/ Russia)

This wooden mansion is a masterpieces of late 19th century Russian architecture. Photos of it have been circulating around the internet for years. I myself also stubled upon it through a post about creepy abandoned places of the world.
While searching for more photos and info on it, the plot thickened and I ended up spending hours sifting through russian journals (with the help of google translate). So I finally came across the history of this place and found out what actually became of it TODAY after being abandoned for such a long time.

Let's start with a bit of history:
Located in the once flourishing village of Astashovo (not Ostashevo - a transcription error made a long time ago) it was built in 1897 inspired by the style of Ivan Pavlovich Ropet, an architect popular in Russia at the time. The owner was Marian Sazonovich Sazonov (1842-1914) who was born in the village but went to become a rich & successful merchant in St. Petersburg. The house was built as a summer residence for him (who was about to retire) and his much younger 2nd wife Catherine A. Dobrovolsky (1875 - approx 1950) the daughter of a deacon at the Elijah Church in neighbouring Falileeva.

Here's a 1908 photo of them (seated in center) in front of the house surrounded by a couple of Catherine's relatives and the rest being farmers & peasants from the surrounding villages. (Larger version here)

But things were changing rapidly during the Russian revolution and the owners left, moved all the furniture and left the keys with someone. The house then stood empty until it was reopened in 1943 serving multiple purposes: a post office, a library and an infirmary (small hospital).
Then the roof started leaking and the occupants fought amongst themselves about who should pay for repairing it. No one wanted to and so the post office and the infirmary moved out and the library closed its doors in the 1970s when the village completely died down.

So then, season by season the house was left to decay in the extreme temperatures of the region - scorching hot summers and extreme cold winters with tons of snow. Nature reclaimed the dilapidating houses in the area and a forest grew around them.

(the brighter photos up the top were taken in 2008 and the previous 3 in 2011)

Until in recent years someone with a heart for the cultural heritage of Russia's wooden houses bought it and has decided to restore it which required an insane amount of planning.
The turret was taken down and placed beside the main structure. Then the entire house was slowly disassembled log by log, ornament by ornament and their original positions mapped out for later reassembly.

Everything was transported by truck to Kirillov (no space in the abandoned village for all the workers and equipment needed) where the wood was first assessed for damage (around 30-40% was rotten) and new pieces recreated to fit the puzzle.

Then all the pieces were reassembled back at the original location where the forest has been cleared and some landscaping is currently underway to recreate the meadow and ponds as they used to be. They hope to finish the exterior soon and start working on the inside.

Apart from restoring the house they want to create a guest house & cultural center as well as a Museum of Peasant Histories. The Kostroma region - one of the most depressed regions of Russia - was hit especially hard by the disasters of the 20th century under Stalin's regime. The region is well known for its abandoned and semi- desolate villages, some of which have only a handful of remaining residents.

To rebuild the house the project reveived support from the Department of Cultural Heritage of Kostroma as well as the hands-on help of many volunteers.

Here's a video about the restoration of the house but it's in Russian and google translate can't do videos. So if you speak Russian and there's any more info in the video that isn't already mentioned above let me know.

The owner of the house has a blog with lots of updates up until 2012 but they also have a facebook page with more recent progress as well as other things happening in the region.

For the approximate location on googlemaps click here.

Photo sources are:


  1. What an amazing story. I saw the original post on LJ and was intrigued. Thanks for sharing this update.

  2. I am so happy to know this wonderful structure was saved! This is amazing news!

  3. Incredible architecture and dedication (and money) to restore.

    The same has happened in Mexico with abandoned haciendas. It is a daunting task to reclaim and rebuild. What a loss of history in all countries that lose their architectural heritage........

    1. Just looked up some abandoned haciendas on google, so sad indeed. They're beautiful buildings!


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