Video Tours > Tour 8. Stories and Thoughts > Carpeting on the Staircase
expand/collapse this text box Summary
A young woman retells a story she heard from an old-timer about how the staircase looked before the revolution.
expand/collapse this text box Translation of the Russian Transcript
Marina: So this one time, I ran into a woman I knew, who had lived here since... well, it was after the revolution, probably 1920, so she was already a little old lady. And she told me, with such tenderness, about how they used to have a... not a guard, what did they used to call them...

Ilya: A doorman?

Marina: Yes, a doorman. When you walk in, you see this little door. That's where the doorman sat. And it turns out, when you walk in, as you go up the stairs, there are a few steps there and then these two ledges, they had some kind of palms there. And a row of galoshes—right away I remembered Bulgakov. There was a carpet on the staircase straight up to the third floor. Mama told you about this, didn't she?

Ilya: No she didn't.

Marina: The building's owner lived here, his apartment was off this staircase, on the third floor. The carpeting went up to the third floor. So. Everybody left their galoshes downstairs. Those recesses in the wall—when you go into the lobby, you'll see stone recesses in the wall—there were mirrors in them.

expand/collapse this text box Details in Photographs
In front of the staircase and elevator
Mailboxes and a recess in the entryway of the building where Marina and Lena live. (Clips "Over a Cup of Tea" and "Who Lived Here Before the Revolution?" in Tour 5). 2007.

What Marina and Lena see in their entryway
Announcements and a little door in the wall. This entryway is used by Marina and Lena from the clips "Over a Cup of Tea" and "Who Lived Here Before the Revolution?" (Tour 5). 2007.

Traces of decoration in the entryway of a building
A bricked-up stove and window frame. This is the building of Lena and Marina from the clips "Over a Cup of Tea" and "Who Lived Here Before the Revolution?" (Tour 5). 2007.

Staircase window, railing
In a stairwell where there are many communal apartments (including the apartment from the clip "Who Lived Here Before the Revolution?" of Tour 5) the window has several panes of colored glass which date back to the early twentieth century. 2006.

Bolshoy Prospekt: theater and television tower
What Marina and Lena from the clips "Over a Cup of Tea" and "Who Lived Here Before the Revolution?" (Tour 5) see on their way home from the Petrogradskaya metro stop. 2007.

expand/collapse this text box Basic Facts and Background
When: Spring 2006

Where: A midsized communal apartment in a prestigious neighborhood in St. Petersburg.

Who: Marina, living here with her mother since she was a schoolgirl.

What: A story about how the staircase and entryway used to look, based on oral sources.

The photographs in Details show how the elements she discusses look now: the niches, which Marina calls "recesses," the door where the doorman sat, and what remains of the decoration.

Stories about old times often include references to a carpeted staircase (unthinkable in an ordinary residential building in the Soviet period) and a few other details, like potted palms. See the clip where Ilya tells his children about how the staircase looked in the building where he grew up, including its carpeting.

Bulgakov is mentioned because his novella Heart of a Dog describes the disappearance of galoshes from the entryway after the "comrades" take over the building.

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