In 2015, the Main Administration for Service to the Diplomatic Corps (GlavUpDK) under the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs completed the comprehensive restoration of the historic mansion in Leontievsky Lane as a part of the program for reconstruction of cultural heritage sites it controls.
This mansion appeared in modern lines at the beginning of the 19th century, when the land was acquired by the Guard Captain Nikolai Volkov, a relative of Maria Volkova, a famous maid of honor of Empress Maria Feodorovna (wife of Alexander I). The house was slightly damaged by the fire of 1812 and basically was saved, but in the course of restoration it received some features of Empire style. It was designed by Athanasius Grigoriev, a close associate of the famous Gilardi. Grigoriev built a portico with eight paired Doric columns between the lateral projections of the façade, while the interior was decorated with twisted staircases, and the ceilings were adorned with elegant stucco work.
In this very form the house passed to the next owner. In 1848, a new governor general of Moscow, Count Arseny Zakrevsky moved into the mansion, and control over the household was assumed by Agrafena Zakrevskaya, who was once the first beauty of St. Petersburg and named by Pushkin a “Copper Venus”. The house was a fashionable literary salon, a center of cultural life of Moscow for ten years. Then, the house was empty for a while, until it was acquired by a “Fur King”, Pavel Sorokoumovsky, in 1880.
This “Fur Faberge” became famous after winning the contract for the production of royal robes for the ceremony of the coronation of Emperor Nicholas II, and participating in the restoration of a relic of the Russian Empire – the famous Monomakh's Cap. Having obtained the title of “Supplier of His Imperial Majesty” Sorokoumovsky’s family successfully sold “Russian sables” in Europe and America and became the largest company at the global market of furs.
Now, enchased with merchant pearls this house has become even more brilliant and luxurious. According to some sources, a famous architect A.S. Kaminsky, one of the forerunners of Moscow Art Nouveau, had a hand in the reconstruction of the house.
In 1882, the house was enlarged from the yard by means of an additional building meant for the house church, which was later transformed into a formal dining room. The interior of the house became more sumptuous and original. Like most famous Russian merchants, Sorokoumovsky’s family had a heart for art. The walls of the mansion were adorned with pictures of Aivazovsky, Tropinin, Levitan and Italian mirrors. Rooms were lighted with fanciful Venetian chandeliers.
The trading company “Pavel Sorokoumovsky and Sons” celebrated the centenary of its founding in March of 1909. The event got a lot of media attention both in Russia and abroad. The hero of the anniversary received many congratulations from major politicians and entrepreneurs from around the world. So, the house in Leontievsky Lane became the center of the entire social life of Moscow during those days. The splendor of receptions and the number of famous guests extinguished all the receptions that the walls of the mansion had seen before.
After the revolution, this mansion became a home for a Moscow communal museum, then – for a Home of Education, editorial office of Teacher’s Newspaper… Only in 1950, the house passed to the jurisdiction of GlavUpDK, and the Greek embassy moved in here in 1960.
The interiors of the late 19th – early 20th century were successfully restored. Visitors are able again to see the two-span staircase leading to the upper enfilade of the rooms, as well as the finest painting of the roof plafond, elegant stucco work of the ceiling friezes, bronze mirrors and lamps.