Singer House (or House of Books)

Pavel Suzor


Prominent location

This six storey art nouveau building is at the intersection of Nevsky Prospekt (a main avenue in central St. Petersburg) and the Griboyedov Canal, which leads directly to the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. It is across from the Kazan Cathedral, a nineteenth century church modeled on St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and serving primarily as a memorial to the Russian victory over Napoleon. (Parts of that cathedral can be seen in some of the pictures below.)

The Singer Sewing Machine Company commissioned this building to serve as offices for the Russian branch of that company. The Russian architect Pavel Suzor designed the striking glass tower at the corner to compensate for the stricture against building any structure taller than the Winter Palace. The building served briefly as the US Embassy (during World War One) and as a bookstore beginning in the early 20th century until the present but it also houses an elegant cafe.

The Nevsky Prospekt facade

The basic elevation goes back to Renaissance palaces with a strong sense of a base, here two storeys and heavily rusticated, a central section, and an elaborate top, not with a cornice, however, but with lovely arched dormer windows and a continuous balustrade. The art nouveau elements are present in the curvilinear architectural elements and the sensuous sculptural forms. Grotesque masks serve as "keystones" in the window arcade.

The glazed corner tower


The glass globe sculpture created by Estonian artist Amandus Adamson


The Griboyedov Canal facade and an oblique view of the rounded corner


The side elevation and elegant side entrance


See on this site the Ryabushinsky House (Gorky House) and the Metropol Hotel for other examples of art nouveau architecture in Russia.

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© 2017 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site) and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.