Log House, Lenin Street, No. 17 (19th Century), Tot'ma, Russia


This winter photograph of a wooden house at No. 17 Lenin Street in Tot'ma (Vologda Oblast) was taken in 1997 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 on the Sukhona River, Tot’ma for centuries was part of an important trading network that led from the Russian heartland northward to the White Sea. The town's relative prosperity is reflected in wooden houses such as this one, a classic creation of 19th-century provincial Russian culture. The basic structure consists of notched logs with a half upper story known as a "mezzanine." The log courses are covered with milled siding (vagonka) in a chevron pattern. The tall window surrounds are capped with classical pediments. The house has a complex metal roof that must withstand the weight of snow each winter. What begins on the sides as a hipped roof is interrupted by the mezzanine, which has a gabled roof repeated in the form of the courtyard porch (the main entrance). The house is heated with wood-burning brick stoves, as witnessed by the plume of gray smoke coming from one of the chimneys. Although still in use at the time this photograph was taken, such houses are increasingly at risk from fire and for lack of resources to preserve them.

Last updated: January 11, 2016