Author Topic: Alexander Palace restoration will begin next year - 2009  (Read 27114 times)

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Offline vladm

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Alexander Palace restoration will begin next year - 2009
« on: August 04, 2008, 07:09:56 PM »
Unfortunately Joanna berried announcement deep in the forum, and folks may missed great news we all were waiting for:
http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=7608.msg329914#msg329914

Here is my translation:
Iraida Bott, announced on July 29th, that ownership of the Alexander Palace from Russian Navy to GMZ "Tsarskoye Selo", complete. It will be part of the GMZ budget from next fiscal year (I believe Russian fiscal - year equal to calendar year). From next year (2009), work will begin on roof of the building and preparation to general plan of the restoration. Restoration will start on year 2010, but according to announcement, only on exterior of the building.
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Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Alexander Palace restoration will begin next year - 2009
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2008, 07:50:26 PM »
That is indeed good news. To make whe palace look "whole" again.  Who knows what lies in store for work on the interiors?
Life may not be the party we expected, but while we are here, might as well dance..

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Offline Sian_Turner

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Re: Alexander Palace restoration will begin next year - 2009
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2008, 10:43:45 AM »
http://s534.photobucket.com/albums/ee348/Sian_Turner/

I do hope the above link works.  I have finally got round to loading up the photos I took when I was at the AP in mid-July.

The reason I've posted them in this area is that it most suits my feelings having been there, and having had time to assess my feelings and impressions gained in my visit.

I have to say - and I realise this will upset some people - that I was seriously, seriously dissappointed with the level of restoration and reproduction at the AP.  As you can see from the photos the paintwork is seriously in need of work.  The wing containing the so-called "reproduction" of the rooms is not too bad on the outside but the other wing is in a dreadful state, including a hole in the roof.  The whole area is overgrown and badly looked after and has quite obviously suffered from the fact that all the money has been put into the Catherine Palace - which is gaudy, overblown and headache inducing in its colours.  It would appear to me that previous Romanovs had little in the way of taste (The Winter Palace suffers from this to a great degree as well).

I can quite understand why Alexandra would have chosen the AP as her home.  It is much more homely and in terms of size is far more like a good Georgian country house in Britain.  It is simple in it's lines and layout and shows that she had an appreciation of scale and architecture.  For those of us used to visiting the low key stately homes of Britain I'm afraid the Russian delight for "all that glisters" and insistence on packing rooms with things that don't match or complement the colours is somewhat sickening.  I also found it hard to reconcile my understanding that this wealth and opulence in the CP and Winter Palace was created whilst millions of ordinary Russians starved.

The AP is very different and, I have to say, that I hadn't appreciated how close to the road it was.  Alexandra's balcony would, I think, have been easily viewed from the road and her view from the Mauve Boudoir would have been onto the road and other houses.  This rather contradicts the impression I had of the family cloistering themselves away in the AP. 

As for the AP interiors I have to say that I found the experience frustrating, badly thought out, seriously un-friendly to non-Russian speakers and somewhat disappointing.  My historian's eye was constantly irritated by the fact that they have put the huge photo's on the wall at the back but have then used completely the wrong furniture in an attempt to "recreate" the room.  N&A's bedroom is a prime example where they've gone to great lengths to show the wall paper and curtain material but have then put beds against the side walls, icons in the wrong place and you have a tiny sheet of paper in one corner with an explanation in English of what the room is.  A's mauve boudoir suffers from the same issues.  If you look closely at the photo on the back wall you can see that there are perhaps two pieces of original furniture currently in the room, a desk and chair in a pale pistachio green colour which have been hidden on one side of the room and covered up with a velvet throw.

The other rooms all suffer from the same with the glorious exception of the Tsar's study which is a stunning reproduction where attention to detail is obvious and which delighted me.  I was also delighted by the fact that there were objects from Garf on show including the piece of wall with the "Balshatsar was in ...." quote on it.  Also's Alexei's arithmetic exercise books (he got all his sum's correct!) and also a collection of some of the girl's dresses - formal ones from I think about 1911, however none of these things were labelled in English - and I was by no means the only non-Russian tourist there that day.

Simple things like putting photo's or paintings next to the costumes would give a much greater appreciation of their history and also a far greater feeling of linkage with the past.  All in all I came away feeling rather cheated.

So I'm delighted to hear that the AP is to be fully restored - it deserves it.  It is a lovely building and it is heartbreaking to see it so shoddily presented.  I can only hope that original furniture can be found (I appreciate that 90 years will have seen a great deal of it destroyed) or properly recreated so that we can all fully appreciate the eye for detail and design that Alexandra undoubtedly had.  It may not be to our taste today but the Study shows what can be done, and brilliantly done, when the money and time is taken.

The Feodorovsky Gorodok is obviously undergoing repair but again a great deal of it is in a very sorry state.  However the cathedral there is wonderfull, I stayed for a service which was affecting and moving.  Let us hope that the same effort that has been put into that is put into the AP.

Offline Joanna

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Re: Alexander Palace restoration will begin next year - 2009
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2008, 01:03:18 PM »
Sian, your photos are marvelous for many here who have not yet visited the AP! Has the institute left the centre/right wing? Did you see progress on the exterior inner courtyard of right wing as in May there were materials piled for restoration work?

To compliment Sian's photos, for example how close Alexandra's rooms were to the road:
http://data4.gallery.ru/albums/gallery/11098--9221564-m549x500.jpg

Full set of photos of another's journal in July:
http://ir-maverick.livejournal.com/72147.html
Interiors:
http://ir-maverick.livejournal.com/72338.html

Feodorovsky Cathedral:
http://ir-maverick.livejournal.com/71614.html#cutid1

Also Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem of GD Elizabeth:
http://ir-maverick.livejournal.com/72782.html
Oranienbaum:
http://ir-maverick.livejournal.com/71820.html

Joanna
« Last Edit: August 18, 2008, 01:29:06 PM by Joanna »

Offline Michael HR

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Re: Alexander Palace restoration will begin next year - 2009
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2008, 02:27:55 PM »
I wonder what they will do with it? It will be intresting to see what happens and what is restored and to what time period.
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Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Alexander Palace restoration will begin next year - 2009
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2008, 03:19:26 PM »
Whilst I do agree with Sian's assessment of the AP, actually  far more generous than mine, I strongly disagree  with the judgements on the other palaces.  That ignores the extreme efforts of the  people working to recrecreate or restore what was almost wiped out.   The Amber Room, for example is almost a miracle.  The palaces are all  of Baroque style and taste, no different than Versailles  or other European palaces of the time.  As for the exterior colours, well, that is  Russian taste. It fits for the times these places were built and for whom. It was explained to me that they, the colours, are designed to  of course make the palace  stand out, as these a were and are showplaces, but also to work with their surroundings. The first time I saw  the Catherine, it was in January and the effect was magical.  That beautiful blue against the  pure white snow. In autumn, it harmonized  nicely with the early sunset glows.
 The Hermitage is the same, it has changed exterior colours many times, blending and contrasting with it's surroundings on purpose. These buildings were intended to stand out. Make an impression.
 Who knows what lies in store for the AP? We have not seen the state of the restricted wings, but judging from the family wing, I am not very hopeful. It would seem, to me, that the roof and exertior are priorities.  And the park needs a LOT of work.
 
Life may not be the party we expected, but while we are here, might as well dance..

Do you want the truth, or my side of the story ?- Hank Ketchum.

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Alexander Palace restoration will begin next year - 2009
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2008, 09:50:34 AM »
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.

Offline Cathy

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Re: Alexander Palace restoration will begin next year - 2009
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2008, 11:59:34 AM »
I must agree with Bob - the palace was in better shape in 2006 than in 2008. Now it seems to be very dirty, dusty on the outside. And when we were there, the outside was overrun by very large dogs - I counted 14 sitting on or at the bottom of the stairs leading to the doors of the left wing museum. I was terrified. We became frightened to even walk the park.

And this is from someone who's best friend is my neighbour's big yellow lab!!

I fell in love with the AP in 1996 when I saw it for the first time, in all its decay. Before we could see inside! And I have loved the grounds all my life. I like the ruins of the Gorodok because I envision the hospital during Alexandra's/girls' nursing days. I love the white tower with the girls sliding down the hill. Etc, Etc.

But now if fell disappointed. I hope one day it is restored to its former glory.

A funny story about paint colour - if you ask a Russian today what colour a palace was 100, 20, 5 years ago, they shrug. Because the exterior colour is not that important to them. The Winter Palace, Peterhof and the Anickovf were all a horrible (in my opinion) red because that was the paint colour that was in the greatest quantity at the time. So it was ordered by Tsar Alex that they paint everything red, to use it up.

I love the yellow of Pavlovsk and Peterhof and the AP. The blue of the Catherine Palace and the Smolney have changed 3 times in my visits; I love blue but I don't find these shades to be pretty. St. Nicholas' Cathedral is lovely. The Stroganoff has change colour twice. And so on... 

Offline Helen

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Re: Alexander Palace restoration will begin next year - 2009
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2008, 06:05:00 PM »
The palace is indeed in a bad state of repair. Workers were working at something this Saturday afternoon, but I don't think they were working at the roof:




Some more recent photos of the palace:



















« Last Edit: August 29, 2008, 06:08:48 PM by Helen »
"The Correspondence of the Empress Alexandra of Russia with Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore, Grand Duke and Duchess of Hesse. 1878-1916"  -  http://www.bod.de/index.php?id=296&objk_
"Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig and Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine in Italy - 1893"

Offline Helen

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Re: Alexander Palace restoration will begin next year - 2009
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2008, 06:06:00 PM »
(Message deleted)
« Last Edit: August 29, 2008, 06:09:37 PM by Helen »
"The Correspondence of the Empress Alexandra of Russia with Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore, Grand Duke and Duchess of Hesse. 1878-1916"  -  http://www.bod.de/index.php?id=296&objk_
"Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig and Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine in Italy - 1893"

Offline EmmyLee

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Re: Alexander Palace restoration will begin next year - 2009
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2008, 12:17:24 AM »
I fell in love with the AP in 1996 when I saw it for the first time, in all its decay. Before we could see inside! And I have loved the grounds all my life. I like the ruins of the Gorodok because I envision the hospital during Alexandra's/girls' nursing days. I love the white tower with the girls sliding down the hill. Etc, Etc.

I completely agree. While I've never had the chance to visit the AP (hope I will someday in the future), I still absolutely love this palace. I've been hoarding almost all the pictures I can find of it, from every angle available, as much detail as I can get. Despite its sad condition, the AP fascinates me.

Offline Douglas

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Re: Alexander Palace restoration will begin next year - 2009
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2008, 01:17:20 AM »
++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Doug here:

I looked at this photo as careful as I could.  It appears that part of the roof has collapsed.  This is the part of the palace that was used by the Navy.  also this part of the palace did not have a new roof covering that the other side did receive.  If you look closely at the other photo you can see that the damage in the exterior wall is very bad on the second floor.  The plaster that covers the brick is completely gone.   This further exposes the building to rain water damage,  as the plaster is supposed to protect the walls from water seeping into the walls.  A disaster is eminent.  They are using a winch to bring up new lumber to shore up the part of the roof that has failed.

  Also I note that weeds and various plant life is growing in the gutters.  This is a bad sign as these growths roots dig into the roof and cause many problems.  They should use plant killer on these weeds and grass.

The roof  covering is a type of steel and is obviously somewhat rusted overall. A steel roof is not a good idea because it constantly expands and contracts with the weather.  This causes leaks to appear.  Very bad. 

But it does appear that the wood planks underneath the steel plates have rotted and has allowed water to get into these timbers.  Needs an emergency repair before winter.

I wouldn't be surprised that the entire roof of the palace needs to be replaced.

You can see that water is leaking into the exterior walls and causing the plaster to crack and fall off.  All of this is because the roofs leaks badly.

The entire exterior needs a very serious restoration, starting with  the roof.   A child could see that the building has been neglected.


The palace is indeed in a bad state of repair. Workers were working at something this Saturday afternoon, but I don't think they were working at the roof:




« Last Edit: August 30, 2008, 01:42:07 AM by Douglas »

Offline EmmyLee

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Re: Alexander Palace restoration will begin next year - 2009
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2008, 11:21:09 AM »
Doug, thank you for your analysis of the AP's condition. The pictures make it look bad, but your shed more light on the situation. They really need to get a new roof up on the palace and quick. And if I understand you right, because even the new section of the roof over the family wing looks like it's steel too, that part is in danger as well?

Offline Douglas

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Re: Alexander Palace restoration will begin next year - 2009
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2008, 02:30:11 PM »
Emmy and friends:

I do not know what kind of material they used on the roof over the family section of the palace.  There are many types of  plastic  and rubber sheeting that are used these days.  Some are affixed directly to the old roof and form a satisfactory covering that can last for many years.   This sheeting is about the thickness of a quarter coin.  This is what I suspect they used.  It is a less expensive quick-fix.

Also, I suspect that they did not put the new blue sheeting over the Navy wing,  is that they knew there was internal damage that needed fixing before the new blue sheeting could be applied. 

« Last Edit: August 30, 2008, 02:37:44 PM by Douglas »

Offline Douglas

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Re: Alexander Palace restoration will begin next year - 2009
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2008, 02:43:59 PM »
Another major problem with the roof is that it is a very complex design and therefore subject to water damage.  I refer to the railings and posts at the edge of the roof.  These posts  create hundreds of vulnerable places where water can collect and wreak havoc with the edge drainage of the roof.

All of this roof 'decoration' is pretty but makes for major problems with the roof.

The roof of this palace is a big headache.