Church of the Dormition (1774), East Facade, Detail, Kondopoga, Russia


This detailed view of the east facade of the Church of the Dormition in Kondopoga (Karelia) was taken in 2000 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 an inlet of Lake Onega, Kondopoga existed as a settlement by the late 15th century. In the mid-18th century its significance increased with the discovery in two nearby villages of sources of marble, used for the construction of some of Saint Petersburg's notable buildings. The Church of the Dormition, built in 1774, is one of the most impressive landmarks of north Russian wooden architecture. The central part of the church is a two-story square structure of pine logs, buttressed on the east with a large apse (visible on the left) crowned with a barrel gable and a cupola covered with aspen shingles. An unusual feature of the design is the expansion of the octagon at its upper part, which supports an attachment in a chevron pattern. Although ornamental in appearance, this element holds drain spouts at the bottom of each chevron and thus serves a functional purpose. The octagonal tower flares at the top to support a 15-meter high “tent” roof. The entire structure approaches 50 meters in height. At the time this photograph was taken, the church was undergoing restoration, but was open for worship.

Last updated: January 11, 2016