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Messages - BobAtchison

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The Alexander Palace / Re: Alix's bathroom
« on: September 06, 2008, 12:07:31 PM »
At night the guards withdrew to the vestibule at the front door of the imperial wing - there were at least six of them.  This was just one of 14 guard installations at night.  The glass doors were closed.  They were armed.  There was an alarm system.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alexandra's mezzanine nook...
« on: September 06, 2008, 10:17:09 AM »
More on the marble colums of the New Study... There were 5 in one set and 3 in another.  They were ordered from Nassauische Marmorwerke , a marble working firm located in Nassau Villmar on der Lahn in Germany.  The pillars were ordered through the Anton Ohlert, a company with operations in germany and Russia.

There were quarries at Villmar, but I was told the marble was from quarries in Austria.  The factory began work in the 1800's and I believe it is still in business.  in 1900 the company was famous for its production of speciality shapes and a huge variety of stones.  Through their equipment and the skill of their workers they produced many marble pieces in Art Nouveau style.  Meltzer ordered from them because they had a fast turn-around time and guaranteed safe delivery.  The columns cost over 3,000 marks, but I am not sure of the exact cost because the receipts here are hard to understand.

Anton Ohlert was a Russian merchant who was born in Russia in 1840 to a family of German origin. he arranged for the sale of Russian commodities like fur and timber for transport to Germany.  His Berlin ofice was opened in 1871. Ohlert was the exclusive representive of Singer in Russia and he built and operated the first Singer factory in Russia in the city of Podolsk.  He sold the firm in 1900 to the Ulrich family, who still run the company today in Germany.  The company halted its operations in Russia during WWI and ended them altogetehr during the revolution.  Later in the 1920's the company entered into deals with the young Soviet Government.


The Alexander Palace / Re: Alexander Palace interiors
« on: September 05, 2008, 06:02:02 PM »
I was lucky to see Alix's rooms in the early 90's before they were 'cleaned up' .  You could see lots of things in the walls and floors where things had been.  There were original latches on windows and hooks on walls, places were you could see where wiring had been and the heating system.  There were even remains of the system that was used to communicate with the servants.  I think all of that is gone now.  The bathroom and dressing room had been ripped out long before.  There was nothing left there.  The Tuxen ceiling painting looks so out of place!

They ripped out walls and put new doors in, tore up everything.  I am sure nothing was recorded.  Thank God they didn't get a chance to rip out the New Study - it was next on the list!  I have only looked in the door of the Maple Room for 10 seconds - it was a long time ago.  All this just breaks my heart.

Someone earlier mentioned about the ballastrade.  They were originally carved from wood.  During the reign of Nicholas II many of these were replaced by cast ones.  There used to be original wood ones up there and many of the ones from Nicholas's time.  I was told that some of them in 1992 were 200 years old.  I have no idea what the situation is now up there.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Maple Room
« on: September 05, 2008, 05:46:24 PM »
This weekend I promise I will put all the pages from the catalog up on the web. There are no sale prices.  I have asked Mark at ALVR and he says they have no records from this period.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alix's bathroom
« on: September 05, 2008, 05:44:03 PM »
Michael, the other problem was that the floors were wood - it was built as a summer palace, not for winter.  You could hear everything going on.  There was music, crashing trays, children laughing.  They palace was very quiet so these sounds were more noticeable when they happened.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Was this room in the Alexander Palace?
« on: September 05, 2008, 05:41:04 PM »
There were stained glass Tiffany transoms above the door of the Maple Room and the New Study that led into the corridor.  There was opalised glass in the cornice of the Maple Room (really, if people could see the Maple Room as it was they would see what a marvel it was) and panels around the mirror on the balcony that were backlit.  The Maple Room balcony also had inset panels of crystal or stained glass.

The Mauve Room a plate glass window that were unique in the palace and also a huge arched greenhouse like window, that I think had lightly colored panels, but I am not sure.

There were colored glass panels in other rooms - much like you would see at the Kottage.  I should go through and check.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alexandra's mezzanine nook...
« on: September 05, 2008, 05:33:18 PM »
I am not sure were the Tiffany lamps went.  I'll have to check and see if Kuchumov marked where are today.  Things from the Maple Room and the New Study went to various places after the war.  Kuchumov tried to keep everything at Pavlovsk without success.  After the war they would not have had much interest in Tiffany or Art Nouveau art glass. I think the Art glass light fixtures from under the balcony in the Maple Room are at the Hermitage.

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.

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