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Main House

Main House


The Main Manor House was built in the 1840s in the style of Russian Classicism. In 1888 the Melikhovo estate was bought by artist Nikolai Pavlovich Sorokhtin who settled down here in this house. He worked as a decorator in famous Hermitage Theater of Mikhail V. Lentovsky in Moscow. During his stay here Nikolai Pavlovich decided to add a verandah to the house, designed in the pseudo-Moorish style with four columns, pointed arches and a scallop fence over the roof.

In the days of Sorokhtin the house was guarded by two gilded griffins standing on both sides of the stairs leading to the verandah.

In 1891, the estate was mortgaged in a bank. In early 1892, Sorokhtin advertised the estate in a newspaper for sale. On February 2nd, he met in Moscow with Anton P. Chekhov, who became the new owner of the estate. On March 7th, in his letter to nobleman Alexei Sergeevich Kiselyov, Chekhov described the Manor House as follows:

"The house is both good and bad. It is more spacious than our Moscow apartment, bright, warm, roofed with iron, stands in a good place, has a verandah into the garden, Italian windows, and so on, but it is bad because it is not tall enough, not young enough, has a very stupid and naive outside appearance, and with the inside abounding with bedbugs and cockroaches, which can only be got rid of by one means—a house fire: nothing else would do for them."

The layout of the estate under the Chekhov family was modified to a certain degree. In the first spring, they moved the main entrance to the western part of the estate, to the so called Quadrangle location. Following year, a Wing Kitchen was built next to the Main House. In 1894, they built a small separate wing deep in the garden, in which Chekhov wrote his famous play "The Seagull" a year later.

Chekhov lived in the manor for seven years, which proved to be the most fruitful years in his work. He wrote 42 stories here. Among them are: "The Black Monk", "The House with the Mezzanine", "Gooseberry", "The Man in a Case", "About love", "Anna on the Neck", "Ionitch", "Peasants" (Muzhiki).

On August 18th, 1899, Chekhov sold the estate to timber merchant M. V. Konshin. The sales agreement stated payment by instalments. Konshin had to repay the debt within a few years, but failed to do so.

In 1903, the real estate was again sold to Baron Nikolai D. Stewart, who held ownership until the Revolution. Stewart made some changes to the external architectural character of the house: he rebuilt the verandah and made a covered way from the house outward to the Wing Kitchen. Aside from that, everything remained unchanged as tribute to the memory for Anton Pavlovich Chekhov.

In 1917, by a Decree of the Soviet Government, the estate was nationalized. On November 29th, 1917, new local authorities made an inventory of the estate and the furnishing of the house. Nikolai Stewart, who was in St. Petersburg at that time, was arrested along with his brother. Regretfully, both were subsequently shot as class enemies.

In 1919, the teacher of the Melikhovo school, A.P. Grachev, was appointed a temporary custodian of the house. But by this time, much of the furniture of the house had been lost. May 28th, 1919 The Soviet government issued a Charter of Immunity for the estate.

In 1924, A.P. Grachev leaded the organization of the Memorial Day of A.P. Chekhov in Melikhovo. By the decision of the meeting of the participants of the Memorial Day, the Chekhov house was renovated through their own efforts. It may sound unusual, but the local collective farmers used it as a school, a drama club class, and for dancing into the dawn. Naturally, the house began to fall into disrepair, but it was still strong enough. However, in 1929, according to the decision of the management board of the collective farm organized on the grounds of Chekhov's estate, the house was demolished and a portion of the wooden frame was transferred to the land belonging to the former estate of the Kuvshinnikovs, who were neighbors of the writer before. The management board used this log frame to set up a collective farm dining house there. Later, it served as the administration building for the museum.

After demolition of the Main House, the only outbuilding that survived on Chekhov’s manor land plot was the separate wing where the play "The Seagull" was written. On March 14th, 1940, the Chekhov Museum was founded on the basis of this small wing house as a branch of the Serpukhov Museum of Local History. And finally, on June 29th, 1944, the museum became fully self-sufficient. Following this, a gradual withdrawal of the collective farm from Chekhov's manor grounds began. On July 15th, 1954, the newly opened museum hosted the Memorial Day ceremony for the writer. And shortly thereafter, the restoration on Chekhov's house was initiated.

In 1957, the wife of the writer Olga L. Knipper-Chekhova came to Melikhovo and blessed the construction of the house. The basis for the restoration project was a house plan and detailed interior design prepared by Anton Pavlovich's nephew Sergei Mikhailovich Chekhov in accordance with the information provided by Maria P. Chekhova, wither's younger sister.

The restoration was overseen by the chief architect of the Mos Project Institute's restoration workshop, A. A. Afanasyev. The house was opened on the New Year's Eve in 1960.

However, during the restoration process, there were some errors and discrepancies regarding the historical appearance of Chekhov's house. In 2018, the Museum-Reserve underwent extensive repairs and restoration work of the Main Manor House of A.P. Chekhov.

Without a doubt, the restoration project was mainly motivated by the need to preserve this cultural site as a listed building of Federal importance. During its 58-year history, there have been no significant repairs carried out. At that point in time, the building required extensive repairs. As part of this renovation, it was possible to restore the historic appearance of the house.

During the restoration process, relevant changes were made to the appearance of the house. Any errors that occurred in 1957 - 1959 have been corrected as well (more specifically, height of the house, windows, exterior painting color, details of the verandah, interior decoration of the house). In addition, the original furniture and decorations of the room, which belonged to Evgenia Yakovlevna, the writer's mother, were also restored.

Before the renovation, this space was used to house the museum's collection. Now, Chekhov's home welcomes visitors in the way it did during the writer's life here.


Standard ticket

On the "Pushkin" to Chekhov