Eliseyev Emporium

Elisseeff Emporium in St. Petersburg is a large retail and entertainment complex constructed in 1902-1903 for the Elisseeff Brothers. Located at 56 Nevsky Prospekt, the complex consists of three buildings, although the corner one is the structure that is referred to as Elisseeff’s store or shop (Елисеевский магазин). Designed by architect Gabriel Baranovskii (Baranovsky, Baranowski, Гавриил Васильевич Барановский), it is one of most striking examples of St. Petersburg Art Nouveau architecture, although at the time of its construction the building was considered controversial.

Name

Elisseeff or Elisseieff is the spelling favored by Elisseeff family (rus. Елисеев). Alternate spellings are Eliseev, Elyseeff, Eliseyev, Eliseef, Eliseief, Eliseieff, Yeliseyev, Jelissejew and Jelissejew.

Architecture

The architect managed to incorporate some parts of older buildings in this structure, made the entire building appear as if it were one giant shop window. Over one half of the façade consists of a single arch. The arch is a giant stained glass window that opens several floors to the street. The Art Nouveau stained glass contrasts with the granite surface of the building adorned by allegorical sculptures of Commerce, Industry, Science and Arts by Amandus Adamson.

Inside there were three large retail halls. Above ready clothing and general retail space, bank, public commercial courses (college-level business classes funded by Elisseeff and open to general public), and a performance theater. The theater is still there, albeit its lavish Art Nouveau interiors were destroyed in a 1960s renovation. Underneath the building were walk-in and drive-in coolers and refrigerator rooms for storage of provisions and some of Europe's best wine cellars.

The hall on the lower floor has one of the best preserved Art Nouveau interiors in the city.

History

Before the revolution of 1917, the shop was under the control of the Elisseeff Brothers merchants. From 1917 to the 1990s, the shop was operated by a state company.

In the mid-1990s, the shop was operated by a Public limited company "Eliseevsky shop". The holding company "Parnas-M" which was owner received in 1995 the right to receive the rent of the trading floor for 49 years.

On July, 29th, 2002, the company «Eliseevsky shop» declared its intention to lease part of the trading house. The company intended to lease 2,200 square metres, the rent was estimated to be $1 million, but privatisation has not been completed.

In the autumn of 2005 "Parnas M" declared the intention to sell a lease of the Eliseevsky shop to "Arbat-prestige" a Moscow perfumery network. "Arbat-prestige" was to have been in the main trading floor with an area of 900 square metres to sell its perfumery goods. The Elisseeff Emporium would have become the leader of its St. Petersburg network. The shop cost was estimated to be $10 million, and the total cost of all investments towards the project of development of an "Arbat-prestige" network were estimated to be $80 million. The idea of a reshaping the most known delicatessen in the city to a perfumery shop has caused negative reaction of society. The Saint Petersburg City Administration has actually put in a veto for the transaction.

In February, 2006 owners "Parnas M" declared the Eliseevsky shop unprofitable and made the decision to sell a small trading floor to Italian firm "Benetton" on February, 17th, 2006. In March, 2006 "Parnas M" and the city administration managed to agree to a partial reshaping of the activity of the shop. The shop was supposed to divide delicacies into zones in which expensive alcoholic drinks would be on sale, and in one of the zones a cafe was planned.

On January, 15th, 2007 the shop was closed for half a year for major repairs. An agreement was signed with the city that upon termination of repair work in a building the delicatessen will open again. Works are still being conducted, they are carried out by company IBGroup which carefully restores building interiors under supervision KGIOP.

In July, 2009 eviction of "Eliseevsky shop" company from a building on Nevsky Prospekt was considered in a court case. The Committee for the Management of City Property of Saint Petersburg City Administration took action against the "Eliseevsky shop" company because of serious debts on a rent. Consideration has been postponed for the beginning of October in connection with necessity of gathering by the parties of additional documents.

Interest in the building has been shown by the owner of restaurants in Moscow and St. Petersburg - the company Ginza Projekt; it has plans to restore the building into an elite grocery shop.

As of April 2011, the shop remains empty and closed.

Tomcat statue

On January 25, 2000, a sculpture of a tomcat offered by historian Sergey Lebedev was placed in the building eaves. The tomcat is made of cast iron, its height is 50 cm, the tomcat has become an attraction of the street, he has begun to be called Elisej. On the opposite side of the street there was a cat called Vasilisa. In 2004 the cats returned from restoration and have been in place constantly since then.

Building Activity

  • Georgi Sokolov
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