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Messages - BobAtchison

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The Alexander Palace / Re: External sun blinds
« on: September 05, 2008, 05:27:32 PM »
The attic was a huge fire problem and it was chock full of stuff.  There were firemen specifically stationed in the attic 24-7 - and on the roof itself.  They pulled out as many beams and replaced them with iron in the imperial wing during the various remodellings there. The attic was full of sand, I think it had a sand floor.  I have never been in the attic, I was on the roof before the destruction of the 90's.  I have seen the skylight in the corner of the 2nd follr corridor - just look for it if you get up there.  The glass has either been painted over or replaced with painted boards, but it is still there.  There was so much that survived that was just swept away in the savage clean-up of the rooms in the 1990's.  They just ripped things out and tossed them that they didn't think were important.  I call it 'slash and burn' restoration.  I was shocked to say the least.

The destruction of the roof was a horrible act, and it didn't have to happen.  They were given enough money to do it right, but a lot of the money was diverted.  The responsible people got away with it, there was no one to stop them.

The Alexander Palace / Re: high radon level in area
« on: September 05, 2008, 05:16:35 PM »
I think the problem is much worse than radon - the entire Petersburg area is a toxic dump.  Things that should have safely removed were just buried, tossed or left to rot.  We have similar areas in the USA.  I am sure the Russians will deal with this in time.  It will just take a while.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alexandra's mezzanine nook...
« on: September 05, 2008, 12:10:04 AM »
Nicholas had 3 big Tiffany lamps 665 rubles each on the mezzaine level of the New Study.  There were 3 smaller ones that cost 475 rubles each and 5 big Tiffany sconces with 25 tulip-shaped lampshades in the New Study - these cost 485 rubles each.  You can see these in pictures.  The transoms were also Tiffany glass.

The Alexander Palace / Re: External sun blinds
« on: September 04, 2008, 11:51:46 PM »
No, the Formal Reception room dates from Catherine's time - from the foundation of the palace.  Except for the alteration of the window sill to accomodate the balcony door in the Maple Room the facade was not altered.  The spaces between the windows are the same width.  The drain pipes make those spaces appear wider - but it's just an optical illusion.

The roof had all sorts of interesting things in it from former times right up until the 1990's.  The 1990's replacement of the roof was a horror that destroyed lots of things on the roof and in the attic.  There were chimneys, skylights, water tanks, etc.  All of this was simply chopped off and a new roof slapped on top.  There was no responsible supervision of the work.  The reason was a great deal of the money that was given for the roof disappeared and the work was rushed with no accounting for the cost or way it was done.  This was another one of the scandals of those times.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alix's bathroom
« on: September 04, 2008, 11:39:57 PM »
It's so very Victorian, isn't it - and Alix learned it from the source, from her Grandmother.

However, her aversion to these smells was also a result of her fear of cholera, typhoid fever and other nasty things.  Alix had lost so many members of her family to this and she almost lost Nicholas.  After Nicholas's illness Alix went nuts about fresh air and leaving windows open all the time.  This had also been a habit of Victoria's but Alix didn't adopt it until then.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Was this room in the Alexander Palace?
« on: September 04, 2008, 03:44:53 PM »
The exterior balcony or terrace of the palace was rebuilt by Danini and he used Quarenghi's original railings with additions.  He also built the beautiful Neoclassical gate of the palace outside the Imperial wing.  Alexandra was involved in desiging it.  The door too the balcony was from the Maple Room and is easy to see.  The window had to be modified for the doors that were put in.  The balcony was assembled from preexisting parts/molds.  You can see these same exact arabesque railings at Peterhof and in the Winter Palace. The balcony was the work of Danini as well.  The balcony was painted light blue.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alix's bathroom
« on: September 04, 2008, 03:31:51 PM »
The plumbing was installed in the bedroom for the wedding of Maria Alexandrovna to the Alfred.  These rooms were their honeymoon suite and her father kept them ready for her and her husband if they ever returned to Russia and wanted to stay in Tsarskoe.  It's interesting that the Prince of Wales stayed here at the same time and I believe Alice was there, too.  The rooms were closed up until Nicholas and Alexandra came.  The fixtures were updated.  Alexandra HATED the toliet in her bedrooms.  She had a TOTAL aversion to doing bathroom things where anyone could hear her or know she was using the bathroom.  It drove her crazy that you could hear the plumbing downstairs in the basement and in the corridor.  The new bathroom was put in alonside the bedroom and all these problems were solved.  Its funny, she had no problems changing baby diapers but the idea that bathroom smells might be anywhere - well, she couldn't stand it.

She hated cooking smells as well, especially when she was pregnant.  She loved the order of fragrant burning woods and incense, especially anything containing Frankincense and Myrrh.  She also loved the small of Chrstas and fir trees...

You will remember on the train to Siberia how she waited until everyine was asleep and out of the corridor before she would use the bathroom.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Maple Room
« on: September 04, 2008, 03:17:21 PM »
Have you all seen the pictures I have up of the pictures in place on the site?  Have you see the Schaeffer catalog that sold two of them?  I have an original.  Kaulbach had a fantastic printing done of the series as a boxed set.  There is also one of Nicholas that he did in that series.  I don't know where it went.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alexandra's mezzanine nook...
« on: September 04, 2008, 03:12:13 PM »
Sarusha:  I have a huge 8 x 10 of that german picture of the fireplace.  I have 7 or so huge pictures of this room after the war.  You have all seen my Maple Room picture from after the war.  These refute the stories that the Imperial Rooms were destroyed during the war.  Wrecked yes, but certainly not destroyed.  Stalin and his henchmen destroyed the personal rooms of Nicholas and Alexandra after the war. 

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alexandra's mezzanine nook...
« on: September 04, 2008, 03:00:29 PM »
The marble columns are real.  They came from Austria and cost a fortune to move from there via the Baltic and St. Petersburg Harbor.  I have 60 pages of receipts for the work and everything bought for the entire remodeling project.  These columns went way over budget once they arrived 4,000 rubles had to be spent over budget to modify them and install them.  I have spent a lot of times up close with these columns, they are wonderful to feel.  Everybody thinks they are plaster until you touch them. They are very cold to the touch.  They are original and in excellent shape. Some if the bronze fittings are still in place around the bases.  I have close-up pictures.  Nicholas kept all his photo albums on the ledge up here, neatly lines up and stacked, all in order.  Metzler used a lot of Tiffany - yes real Tiffany - in Nicholas's and Alexandra's two formal rooms.  These were two incredible spaces.  Now that new management will be coming in we won't have to worry about Nicholas's New Study being ripped out.  That was one of Sautov's objectives in his proposal for the palace to be restored to the time of Nicholas I, hopefully now that he is gone the danger is gone as well.

The Alexander Palace / Re: high radon level in area
« on: September 04, 2008, 02:45:48 PM »
There are lots of things buried around the palace that shouldn't be there.  It is actually quite scary.  This is true in and around St. Petersburg from the time when it was a military/naval town and all sorts of things were built and disposed of there.  Ten years ago there were radioactive isotopes in the canal right by the Stroganov Palace.

The Alexander Palace / Re: External sun blinds
« on: September 04, 2008, 02:42:28 PM »
The sun shades were removed in Fall and Winter. The mechanism for them were still attached to the walls of the palace after the war, but I am sure they are all gone today.  The back side of the palace had metal awnings as well. There was a balcony beneath Maria Alexandrovna's rooms.  They put blooming citrus trees here and left the windows open.

I have to look this up for more information.

The palace is a mess inside and out.  It is a huge disappointment to visitors who come from all over the world to see Nicholas and Alexandra's palace and they get a horrible shock.  I am sorry to say this has been an issue of neglect, lack of funds and leadership.  Some ex-communists and products of the old cultural elite trained and educated in the Soviet system have had an abilivent attitude regarding the palace.  There were some high up people who wanted to destroy all of the remaining rooms of the Nicholas and Alexandra era and recreate the era of Nicholas I.  The late 19th early 20th century styles of the decoration of the Imperial rooms, expecially Art Nouveau called Style Moderne in Russia, were 'decadent' in the Soviet style book.

Tsarskoe Selo Palaces / Re: The English Palace
« on: August 19, 2008, 09:08:50 AM »
I made a page of pictures and plans of the English Palace in my Blog at:


Tsarskoe Selo Palaces / Re: War Damage of Tsarskoe Selo and Peterhof
« on: August 19, 2008, 09:07:02 AM »
I have an old friend who has an album of pictures including some of the interior of the palace during the war.  I have not seen the pictures for a long time. I hope I can find a couple on my own, too.

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