Church of the Dormition (1749-55 and 1800-08), with Bell Tower (1790-1808), Northeast View, Tot'ma, Russia


This northeast view of the Church of the Dormition 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. Its prosperity was reflected in the number of graceful brick churches built in the 18th century. The Church of the Dormition, overlooking the high north bank of the Sukhona, was originally built in 1749-55, immediately after the Church of the Resurrection (visible in the center, without cupolas). Most of the Church of the Dormition was dismantled for a rebuilding in 1800-08 that produced a modest one-story church covered with a wooden roof and low dome in the neoclassical style. The main part of the structure now contains a branch of the Tot’ma Museum devoted to religious art. The bell tower, begun in the 1790s and completed in 1808, overshadows the church itself. In good weather it is possible to climb to the top of the bell tower for a panoramic view of Tot’ma and the surrounding countryside. The uneven topography of Tot’ma, with ravines leading down to the Sukhona, enhances the visual impact of its picturesque churches.

Last updated: January 11, 2016