New Zealand Embassy, Moscow, Russian Federation
The first owner
Upon final completion, the new mansion erected by The Moscow Trading-and-Construction Joint Stock Company remained corporate property for quite a while. There is no telling why. If could well be due to both architectural-and-artistic reasons (say, potential buyers simply disliked the mansion or were not happy with its dimensions and volume) and purely material ones – its price night have been so high that there were no volunteers to put up a large sum. Be it as it may, it was only in the late 1900s (possibly in 1909) that the building was bought by I.A.Mindovsky, a prominent member of the Moscow business community. His personality and biography immerse us in the world of the solid Moscow merchant class of that time and are therefore worth mentioning.
Ivan Alexandrovich Mindovsky (1836-1912), a major textile manufacturer from the Upper Volga was, like many other successful Russian nouveaux riches of the late 19th – early 20th century, the son of a patriarchal peasant family. The head of the family Ivan Ivanovich Mindovsky (1781-1853), an enterprising bondman from Staraya Golchikha village, Kineshma District, Kostroma Province, dominion of the landowner Glushkov (nowadays the area belongs to Ivanovo Oblast). In 1817, the peasant Mindovsky established his first warping, dyeing and finishing enterprise in his native village, which laid the foundation for the wide-ranging and substantial family business. Ivan’s four sons (Alexander, Yefim, Fyodor and Galaktion) subsequently divided the business, substantially developed it, and created a modest textile manufacturing network.
In 1873, one of the four – A.I.Mindovsky bought out with partners from the town of Yuryevets authorities a construction site for a flax spinning factory and established the grading partnership known as “The Yuryevets Flax Spinning Manufactory Run by Mindovsky, Bryukhanov and Bakakin". That was how his son and heir Ivan Alexandrovich Mindovsky, the future owner of the mansion in Povarskaya Ulitsa, became co-owner of the Yuryevets factory, which originally made his a 1st Guild Merchant of Yurievets.
In 1880, the peasant’s grandson Pyotr Galaktionovich Mindovsky with his kinsman I.A.Bakakin (the two friends married full sisters – Iraida and Olga), founded the “Joint Stock Volga Manufactory of Paper and Flax Goods run by P.Mindovsky and Bakakin" and launched the construction of a major mechanized weaving-bleaching-dyeing factory in Navoloki village, a short distance away from Kineshma. Soon after, his cousin Ivan Alexandrovich Mindovsky, and later on his son sons, joint the business.
The factory was commissioned in 1882; by the late 19th century it employed over 1500 workers, and its annual turnover exceeded 2 million rubles. The Mindovskys’ factory on the Volga was an up-to-date complex facility with advanced machinery; the owners also established an adequate social security system for workers who lived at the facility in specially erected accommodations. At that time, many Russian entrepreneurs did their best to create a normal living environment for the labour – the Navoloki factory ran a primary school parish school, library for children and adults, and a hospital with an outpatient facility.
In 1909, the Joint Stock Volga Manufactory and the Yuryevets Flax Spinning Manufactory Run by Mindovsky, Bruykhanov and Bakakin, merged. The Mindovskys family bussiness was thus significantly consolidated. By the 1910s, it had integrated textile factories in Navoloki, Nikolskoe and Yuryevets, warehouses in Moscow, Rostov-on-Don, Kharkov, Kiev and at the Nizhegorodskaya Fair. The partnership management board had its office in the business City of Moscow – in Shuya Yard, on the prestigious Ilyinka, a street of leading banks and offices of prosperous companies. At that time Ivan Alexandrovich Mindovsky, hereditary honorary citizen, was both director of the Volga Manufactory management board and director of the Dolmatovskaya Manufactory of Paper Goods in the same Kineshma District. Apart from his manufactory activities, Ivan Alexandrovich was a significant public figure and philanthropist: he was a member of the Moscow Merchants’ Society for Mutual Loans, the Moscow Society for the Dissemination of Commercial Knowledge and supported factory schools and orphanages.
In accordance with lex non scripta for preserving family business and capital, arranged marriages usually joined close business partners and even relatives. The Mindovskys family was no exception. Ivan Mindovsky’s wife, Alexandra Ivanovna, nee Kokoreva, belonged to another famous and wealthy merchant family from Kostroma Province. Her father, I.G.Kokorev, hereditary honorary citizen, was managing director of the Manufactory Partnership Run by Gerasim Razorenov and Ivan Kokorev in Tezin village, Kostroma Province, member of the management board of the Dolmatovskaya Manufactory of Paper Goods headed by his son-in-law. In summer the couple used to stay at their mansion near Putkovskaya village, Tezin Sub-district, Kineshma District, a short distance away from the so called “smaller motherland" of both the Mindovskys and the Kokorevs.
The Mindovsky couple had three sons – Nikolai, Ivan and Pyotr, plus two daughters – Iraida and Olga. Apparently the family was tight-knit not in business alone. According to family recollections, all generations met often, stayed with one another and not in frequently spent the summer months together. The eldest son of the Mindovskys, Nikolai Ivanovich (b.1860) earned the highest authority in the Russian business community. When he was young, and ever before he had graduated from the Academy of Practical Expertise, he was sent by his father to run the Yuryevets Flax Spinning Manufactory. He was its managing director and director of the management board for 25 years. In the early 1910s, following the merger of the Yuryevets Factory and the Volga Manufactory, N.I.Mindovsky being an experienced industrialist, became director of the management board. Very much like his father, he was no stranger to charity – he was a trustee for the Orphanage under the Office of Empress Maria in Yuryevets, as well as a trustee of numerous schools and hospitals.
Ivan Alexandrovich Mindovsky’s daughter Iraida married her father’s cousin Pyotr Galaktionovich Mindovsky, founder of “The Joint Stock Partnership Volga Manufactory of Paper and Flax Goods Run by P.Mindovsky and I.Bakakin", and thus, not only was she firmly tied to the family business but she also did not need to change her surname on marriage. In the early 20th century, Iraida Ivanovna Mindovskaya was a most visible house owner in Moscow. A beautiful mansion by F.O.Schechtel in Vspolny Pereulok (No. 9) was built in 1913-1914 for her.
The Mindovskys clan was united not only by capital but also by religious conviction. Like many other wealthy Moscow merchants at the turn of the century, I.F.Mindovsky had Old-Veliebers’ roots. This is why, at first, it looks strange that a fashionable and decorative Kekushev mansion in Povarskaya Ulitsa, built in exquisite Art Nouveau with no national features, should have caught his fancy. However, this is absolutely in line with the history of Moscow Old-Believers who used at that time to be not just in the forefront of entrepreneurship and philanthropy, but also champions of the new style in the city. One cannot but recall the Moscow mansions owned by such known families of Old Believers as the Morozovs and the Ryabushinskys. The mansion on Povarskaya thus ranks alongside these mansions.
Unfortunately, I.A.Mindovsky did not own his new mansion on Povarskaya (No. 44) for long. Following his death in 1912, the building became the property of his children – Nikolai, Ivan, Iraida and Olga. As likely as not, the building was meant for or used by one of the heirs or grandchildren, but the close-knit Mindovskys did not legally divide their property rights before the Revolution.