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History of the Church

Wooden church

The first wooden church was built in Pulkovo in 1748-1749. At this time, the icon of the Smolensk Mother of God was painted. The church was consecrated by St. Petersburg Archbishop Feodosii on October 14, 1749, but several years later it burned down. A new wooden church was built in 1755-1757 by order of Empress Elizabeth, and consecrated on July 28, 1757 by St. Petersburg Archbishop Silvester.

Architectural Design

The architectural plans for a stone church in Pulkovo that were presented by Quarenghi to the Empress were distinguished by a hall-like structure that had no cupolas. In the architect’s first version, he proposed four open round bell towers on each corner. It’s possible that Catherine II was actively involved in creating the architectural plans. It’s no accident that Quarenghi wrote to the Italian artist Carteggio, ```Sometimes Her Highness deigns to give me programmes, and she herself makes sketches for me.’’

The Empress didn’t approve the first version because it was obvious that four bell towers didn’t make any sense. So, Quarenghi worked more on the project. He removed two bell towers from the eastern side, replaced the windows on the northern and southern sides with niches, added an entrance on the west side, and placed double-columned porticos on the northern and southern sides. Then the architect had to remove the niches and make the northern and southern walls smooth.

In the final version that was approved by the Empress the architect replaced the round bell towers on the western façade with eight-sided ones, and removed the portico with columns in front of all three entrances. After this, Quarenghi made his estimate for the construction of the Pulkovo church, and thus the design stage was completed.

Construction

On October 12, 1782 a contract was signed between the Construction Office of Tsarskoe Selo and the builder German Afanasiev. The contract stipulated that all external and internal work must be completed by September 1, 1784. On May 29, 1783 the Construction Office of Tsarskoe Selo ordered, ``By order of Her Imperial Highness a stone church is to be built in another area in the Pulkovo town, and the three peasant households are to be moved to another location with all their structures.’’

As seen in the quoted document above, Empress Catherine II herself chose the place for building the stone church.

While the church was being built, the iconostasis and icons for this church were also painted. On July 18, 1784 the Construction Office in Tsarskoe Selo signed a contract with Ivan Akimovich Akimov, a painting academic from the Imperial Academy of Art, which called for the artist to paint an iconostasis according to Quarenghi’s design and wishes.

The four-level iconstasis, that was topped by a golden crucifix also made by Quarenghi’s design, was made in 1784-1785 by master Franz Brullo (a relative of the famous painter and architect Brullov family). The construction and interior of the Church of the Icon of the Smolensk Mother of God in Pulkovo was completed at the end of 1785 when it was consecrated. The old wooden church stood next to the stone church for a few more years until it was taken down in 1793.

Later additions and the deacon’s house

In subsequent years the church’s external appearance was changed a little. In the book, ``Historical Statistical Information of the St. Petersburg Diocese,’’ it is written that, ``in 1823 the Petersburg merchant Vasily Semyanov built a stone porch.’’ In 1831 a stone chapel was added on the territory. At the time that the church was built a home for the priests was also built, as was a parish school, both according to Quarenghi’s design. Quarenghi’s detailed plans for the priests’ house have survived.

Church parish

Besides the village of Bolshoe Pulkovo, the church’s parish included five more villages: Podgornoe Pulkovo, Kamenka, Redkoe Kuzmino, Tolmachi, and Katlino. In 1883 there were 1,384 male parishioners, and 1,780 female parishioners. Starting in 1885, the church had a school, first in a rented building, and then starting in 1903, in a new and specially-built house.

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The church in Pulkovo was officially closed in 1938. In 1943 the church was destroyed during military operations. All that remains to this day is the church’s foundation that have a deep vault, as well as the foundation of a one-storey deacon’s house that is located adjacently.