Log Grade School (Left Bank) (Early 20th Century), Ustiuzhna, Russia


This photograph of an early 20th-century log grammar school in Ustiuzhna (Vologda Oblast) was taken in 2001 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 Mologa River (a tributary of the Volga River), Ustiuzhna was known already in the mid-13th century for its rich deposits of bog iron. It became one of the earliest Russian centers of metalworking and achieved special prominence in the 16th century. Although the town was decimated by the disorder in Russia at the end of the 16th century, it was able to withstand a Polish-Lithuanian siege in 1609 (during the Time of Troubles). The 18th-century development of the Urals as Russia's primary metal area led to Ustiuzhna's decline, and the town settled into the status of a modest regional center (its population in 2010 was around 10,000). During the second half of the 19th century, secular education gradually replaced church schools for primary education in such towns. This building, still in use, is an excellent example of the simple but functional architecture of these schools. Its solid log walls are punctuated with large double-glazed windows under a metal roof. In the foreground is a small playing field, flanked by lilacs in full bloom.

Last updated: January 11, 2016