G.V. Usov House (Late 18th Century), Velikii Ustiug, Russia


This view of the Usov mansion in Velikii Ustiug (Vologda Oblast) was taken in 1996 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Located where the Sukhona and Iug rivers merge to form the Northern Dvina River, Velikii Ustiug achieved the apogee of its prosperity in the 18th century. At some point between 1785 and 1800, Vasilii Usov, one of Russia's wealthiest merchants, built this elegant stucco brick neoclassical mansion overlooking the Sukhona River. Recessed panels with rosettes separate the ground floor (for offices) from the main level, which contained the family's living space and was accessed from the courtyard. The center of the river facade is marked by a balcony on wrought iron brackets. This central part is framed by pilasters with Corinthian capitals—a touch of sophistication for a provincial town. The mansion culminates in a pediment with an Italianate window. A low courtyard wall extends on either side of the structure. After the death of Vasilii Usov’s son and heir Grigorii, the mansion was sold in 1866 to the town administration. During the Soviet era it continued to serve a variety of administrative functions, until its conversion to the town's main museum.

Last updated: January 11, 2016