"Bugrov's Flophouse"


Historically, the location of trades in the Lower market was famous for the huge number of people who did not have their "warm corner" in our big city which was not always welcoming to the homeless mass. There were different people - the peasants who lost themselves in the city, drunken nobles, artisans who came to earn money, and minor criminals. So there have been many people here, everybody had to have “roof over the head” which could be more reliable than the starry sky of the city.


Close to the trade in Halfhill over it, the known philanthropist - an honorary citizen Nikolai Bugrov, established a shelter for these, as they were called, "former people" in the memory of his father, who died in 1880. The building of the shelter which was built by the architect Fyodor Nikolayevich Falin, in the rational style of Russian architecture of the turn of XIX - XX centuries, looked as strong and sturdy as its founder, perfectly harmonizing with the Kremlin ensemble, at the base of which it was located.

The house, which was designed for the simultaneous presence in it up to 900 people, in reality took more needy ones. For example, in 1891 the total number of people benefiting from the warmth of the doss house was 459,882 person, it means that an average number was about 1,259 people per day. The maintenance of such amount of people who need can be called a true feat in the name of people which was committed by N.A. Bugrov and city officials who were involved in the organizing activities and content of the shelter. People who stayed for a night slept everywhere, including latrines, but even these seemingly obvious inconvenience could not reduce the enormous role which was played by the shelter in contempt of underprivileged. Shelter contained on the city funds contributed to this budget from money which were received in the first place, by putting rentals premises on specially built for this purpose Bugrov profitable house. Doss house opened its doors for people who needed the shelter and free food at 6 pm, but from 4 pm there was a crowd stretched to the home by seeking a place to stay and wait their turn fearing to stay on the street. There were strickt rules in the shelter, Old Believer Bougrov could not stand undue liberties, but apparently it was impossible to hold unbridled accustomed to anarchy and endless freedom crowd of people from illegal actions. During the staying in the shelter there were not allowed: "to smoke tobacco, drink alcoholic beverages, play cards and other games, violence was not accepted as swearing, and singing. Those who were noticed by doing this and that were stopped by the warden, if he/she was disobedient – they could be immediately sent out from the house". In order to prevent larceny people who decided to stay in this place in case of bringing some luggage, had to give it to a senior warden before entering, and get a special numbered stamp on it and to be able to get the property back after the night. Early in the morning lodgers, on cue, were obliged to leave the house, then the rooms were locked up, and none of the outsiders had no right of entry there till the evening.

This house was salutary for many people, but in itself, it was a terrifying place, an original monument of thousands who were thrown out of the "board of life". The founder of the house N.A. Bugrov said: «... out of this house, as out of the pool, there is no way anywhere». There were many people who got there willingly or unwillingly, but only a few who could find a way back. One of the "disappeared" inhabitants of the house was the cousin of Maxim Gorky, Alexander Mikhailov - gutless romantic and a dreamer. Several times Gorky pulled him out of the surrounding slum of the house even took him to Crimea, arranged him as a watchman of the vineyards, but it was useless.

A few months later Mikhailov came back to Volga, he again found himself in the familiar world of the inhabitants of the house and the connected to it so-called Millionka. The result was predictable and sad in1908, he died of typhus. Perhaps remembering the sad fate of a relative, Gorky as closely interested in the life of people of the house, their fate, dreams, nature. By the way, Gorky himself was among those who were lucky enough, not just once being a shelter occupant, but escape from this terrible environment. Many regular inhabitants of doss-house became prototypes for a lyrical famous play of Gorky "The Lower Depths". Being fair to the history, it should be noted that what the author described in the play of domestic side of "Bugrovski guests" life is slightly different from the real one. There was no drunkenness, wardens had a good salary, and by the charter of the shelter there was strictly forbidden to bring wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages.


In 1885 – 1888, on Zelensky Congress Bougrov made another profitable house next to the shelter, the profits from which went to the whole maintenence of the house. In Soviet times, there was no any shelter there. Various organizations and numerous communal apartments were located in the house. Old residents remember that in the 60 - ies huge landslide of the Kremlin hill collapsed on the building of the former doss house. Life of people who were in the house at that moment was rescued only by the solidity of building which was built for the centuries.

Nowadays the Ministry of Social Welfare, which was designed to protect the interests, first and foremost, the least successful segments of the population. Hopefully, a good example is a light beam Bugrova for people here taking important social decisions. By the arrival of the new "owners" the place has been renovated and historic building with its imposing appearance continues to adorn our "regally posed city."

S.V. Petryaev


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