Chekhov`s House and Museum
A Literary Walk around Moscow. Part I
A small bright-red cottage has taken shelter not far from Kudrinskaya square, on the outer side of Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya street. It stands out unexpectedly among its bigger but colourless neighbours. This is the famous Chekhov House-Museum.
and lived there up to April 1890, when he left for his long journey to Sakhalin island. While in this house the writer created works that have become a part of Russian classic literature: “Steppe”, “A Dull Story”, the drama “Ivanov”, plus a hundred brilliant short stories and a few vaudevilles. “I live in Kudrino at Sadovaya,” Chekhov writes in one of his letters, “the place is clean, quiet and not too far from anything.” His mother Evgeniya Yakovlevna, his sister Maria and his younger brother Mikhail shared the house with him.
The two-storeyed brick structure was built in 1874 by architect V.A. Afanasev. Two bay-windows decorate the façade, and the same type of bay-window crowns the exit. The writer’s friends used to say that the building “resembled a castle” and that it was as original as Chekhov’s stories. The most fitting comparison, “The Comode House”, that is still used today, in Russian, belongs to Chekhov himself. He noted in one of his letters: “I live in Kudrino in the Korneev’s house, it resembles a Comode, opposite the Gymnasium number 4. The colour of the house is liberal. That is red.” In Chekhov’s time the house did not look as small as today. In the 19th century, it was surrounded by trees and almost sank into a green sea of orchards spread along the street.
After the fire of 1812 a large number of stone houses, most of them one or two storey constructions were built, although many wood buildings were still standing on Sadovaya Kudrinskaya.
By a decree of the Emperor Alexander I, the street was widened. It was difficult in those days to maintain such a wide street, so house owners organised large gardens in the front of their properties, and planted trees. This is why most streets have been given two names: Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya, Sadovaya-Triumfalnaya etc., the “Sadovaya” part meaning “garden”…
In the second part of the 19th century, most of the wooden houses along the street and inside the gardens were replaced by brick buildings. The four-storey buildings of the Gymnasium No. 4 (house No. 3) and the Technical School (house No. 9) appeared here at the end of 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. Sofia’s children’s hospital (called today Filatov’s city hospital for children No. 13) occupied the premises of Prince Scherbatov’s house (house 15). All other houses were sold to merchants, only four small houses belonged to the nobility.
Externally, house number 6 in Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya; Chekhov’s House-Museum looks almost exactly as it did at the end of the 19th century.
The memorial rooms of the museum look just the same as they did when Chekhov lived there. The writer’s study and bedroom, his brother and sister’s living rooms, the front room have all been reconstructed in accordance with the drawings and descriptions by Chekhov’s relatives. One can tangibly feel the atmosphere that Chekhov lived and worked in. The inkpot with the bronze figure of the horse in Chekhov’s study draws the visitors’ attention. This inkpot was a present to Dr Chekhov by a poor woman patient from whom he refused to take fee. Moreover, he then gave her money to buy medicine.
There is an autographed photograph on the desk of Tchaikovsky. Chekhov was a great admirer of the composer.
He was going to dedicate his collection of stories Gloomy People to him. He was pleasantly shocked when Tchaikovsky visited him at his Kudrino home. On the walls of the front room one can see many pictures by Nikolay Chekhov, the writer’s brother who died young. Three halls of the house and the annex are occupied by historical and literary exhibitions dedicated to the writer’s life and work from 1879 to 1904. There are portraits of Anton Chekhov by Serov and Nikolai Chekhov, original editions of his works, a collection of rare photographs of Chekhov, his relatives and friends, and theatre posters.
Sadovaya Kudrinskaya 6
(495) 691 6154,
(495) 691 3837