MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –
From serf peasantry to hereditary honorary citizenship. We get acquainted with the history of the family that gave Moscow innovative entrepreneurs, two mayors and one of the world’s most famous theatrical figures.
The founder of the dynasty, Alexei Petrovich Alekseev, having received his freedom in the Yaroslavl province, came to Moscow in 1746, began to trade in the silver row, and soon he was ranked among the merchants. He himself was not yet very well known, but everyone in the city knew the names of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren: they built hospitals, schools, museums, laid sewers and water pipes, opened theaters. After the October Revolution of 1917, their enterprises were nationalized.
Alekseevs from Bolshaya Alekseevskaya
The son of Aleksey Petrovich, Semyon Alekseevich, was only 34 years old when he established the production of gold and silver gimp in the city. Thin threads-wires, which were used in embroidery, came into fashion under Catherine II: luxurious clothes embroidered with gold and silver became the dress code for the nobility for a long time.
Alekseev was not limited to one sales market: his gimmick was used in jewelry, decorated with it the clothes of clergymen – the entrepreneur personally traveled around the monasteries, showing samples. Gold-working production brought in consistently high income. Soon, Semyon Alekseev became a merchant of the first guild, and also a commerce advisor – this title, desirable for every entrepreneur, allowed him to obtain honorary citizenship, which also extended to children.
For his family, Semyon Alekseevich bought the estate, built in 1767 by the architect Rodion Kazakov and later rebuilt. The previous owner of this luxurious classicist building was the city head Vasily Zhigarev. The street on which the Alekseevs settled was called until 1919 Bolshaya Alekseevskaya (now Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Street), but this toponym had nothing to do with industrialists. The historical name was given by the nearby Church of the Metropolitan Alexy, beyond the Yauza. Alekseevs this house belonged to the end of the XIX century.
After the death of Semyon Alekseev in 1823, his place at the enterprise was taken by the widow Vera Mikhailovna. She came from the merchant family Vishnyakovs – the owners of a rolled silver factory. Under her leadership, Alekseev’s production reached a new level: the products became widely known in other countries, participated in many international exhibitions.
One of the three sons of Semyon Alekseevich – Vladimir Alekseev – was able to further expand the family business. Not forgetting the gold-working factory, which he took over in 1849, he founded the partnership “Vladimir Alekseev”. The new enterprise was engaged in the purchase of wool, its processing and further resale to cloth factories.
The family-owned gold-thread factory made a splash in the 1870s – it was the first in the country to introduce machine production, which had a beneficial effect on quality. Manual labor was partially replaced by the work of crimping machines, a steam hammer and other modern devices. Previously, this was all used only in French Lyon.
Nikolay Alexandrovich – mayor
One of the most famous descendants of the Alekseev family was Nikolai Aleksandrovich, the great-grandson of the founder of the canning factory. When he was 18 years old, his father appointed him to be an assistant in the management of the enterprise. The young man proved himself brilliantly: he delved into the most difficult issues, took on difficult tasks in order to gain experience. He knew that one day he himself might become the head of the company.
However, his career was not limited to this. At the age of 25, he became a vowel of the Moscow City Duma, and at the age of 32 he was elected mayor – in this post he served three terms. Muscovites loved him, seeing how he treated his work. Nikolai Alexandrovich often walked around the city with a notebook, noting what should be given special attention. Anyone could approach him – to report a problem or simply to greet. Alekseev listened to everyone.
A competent politician, he did a lot for the city – for example, he helped build medical and educational institutions, it was on his initiative that the laying of the sewerage system began, the water supply system was updated. Under Alekseev, pumping stations appeared, which made it possible to bring water supply to every house. The mayor personally paid for the construction of pressure towers at the Krestovskaya outpost (they have not survived to this day). The first asphalt roads are also his merit.
The story of the impudent merchant
Particularly interesting is the story associated with the appearance in 1894 of the N.А. Alekseeva, who in Soviet times bore the name of P.P. Kashchenko. The project was expensive, and Alekseev, having made the first payment, urged wealthy capital’s merchants to follow his example. To personally discuss the matter, he even invited them to a reception. In the midst of the conversation, one of them, grinning straight in the face of the mayor, said: “Bow down to me in front of everyone at my feet – I will give a million.” Everyone was quiet, watching what would happen next.
Alekseev reacted coolly to such insolence. Without saying a word, he bowed to the merchant under the astonished glances of the rest of the guests, who expected that the insolent man would immediately be driven home. And the astonished tyrant, who also could not believe his eyes, immediately laid out the promised money.
By such an act, Nikolai Alexandrovich earned even greater respect from both other merchants and everyone who learned about this story – they say, only those who truly care about the city and its inhabitants are able to forget about pride. Thus, the merchant who wished to humiliate Alekseev raised him even more.
Tretyakov Gallery, Alexander Garden and more
Nikolai Alekseev, who adored art, proved himself to be a patron of the arts. He helped open the Tretyakov Gallery. By the way, his wife was Sergei Tretyakov’s niece. Nikolai Aleksandrovich ordered the construction of a building for the merchant club on Malaya Dmitrovka, which now houses the Lenkom theater of Mark Zakharov, as well as the Polytechnic Museum on New Square. Alekseev gave the order to complete the construction of the Historical Museum, to erect the building of the City Duma on Revolution Square – there are countless numbers. He also contributed to the appearance of the Upper Trading Rows on Red Square (now – GUM). The mayor also drew attention to the Alexander Garden, which at that time was neglected, inconspicuous, unnecessary to anyone. Alekseev decided that he would make him one of the favorite places of Muscovites.
Nikolay Alekseev died tragically on March 9, 1893. All his fortune went to his wife, Alexandra Vladimirovna. Taking his place in the partnership “Vladimir Alekseev”, she made one of the largest donations to charity in the history of the city – in memory of her husband. This money went, in particular, to the completion of the Alekseevsk psychiatric hospital and an orphanage.
Nikolai Alexandrovich was not the only mayor in the history of the family – this post from January 1840 to October 1841 was held by his cousin Alexander Vasilyevich.
The same Stanislavsky
The famous theater reformer, director, actor, teacher Konstantin Stanislavsky is actually also Alekseev. The pseudonym by which he is known all over the world, he took only in 1885 at the age of 22, so as not to “disgrace the family” with too strong a passion for the theater. He loved performing arts from childhood – it was customary to stage family plays in his house. However, Konstantin Sergeevich began to serve not on the stage, but at his father’s factory – the same one where the gimp was made. The theater, it seemed, remained only as a hobby.
For the first time, he demonstrated his talent as an innovator in production. Konstantin Sergeevich came to work at the factory in the early 1880s and a few years later traveled to Germany and France to see how European factories function. Upon arriving home, he announced that the most profitable business would be related to electricity. Why not think about releasing not a gimp, but a cable?
Soon the factory (Stanislavsky was one of the directors) merged with a firm of relatives, forming a partnership “Alekseev, Vishnyakov and Shamshin”. In the early 1900s, a copper rolling production was established there, and a department was created where insulated conductors for low currents were made. A little later, a copper rolling and cable factories appeared. Konstantin Sergeevich did not stop there and a little later built a new cable housing.
Between the factory and the theater
Several years remained before the creation of the Moscow Art Theater: in 1894, Konstantin Sergeevich continued to play performances on the stage of the Moscow Society of Art and Literature Lovers, and at his factory he created a choir and a reading room for ordinary workers, where public readings were often held. A year later, an amateur theater was opened there. Stanislavsky explained its appearance as a benefit for production: so that employees “do not mess around,” that is, do not drink after work.
The workers, wanting to escape from their daily routine, enjoyed watching the performances and took part in them themselves. The theater became so popular that after a few years a separate building had to be erected for it. The construction was sponsored by Konstantin Sergeevich himself. In the meantime, the plant began to need additional territory – orders were growing. The directors were asked to give the theater building for these needs, and he had to give up the lower floor.
Under the leadership of Stanislavsky, the family business has become one of the best cable factories in the country. Konstantin Sergeevich was in the position of director until 1917. Then the enterprise was nationalized, and it received the name “Electroprovod”.
The former owner did not care much about all this – he completely and completely focused on the theater. At that time he lived on Karetny Ryad Street in a house with a mezzanine, which once belonged to the owner of the carriage factory, Alexander Markov. The building, the pediment of which was decorated with sculptures of griffins, could not fail to attract the attention of passers-by. His next dwelling was the 17th century house in Leontievsky Lane, where the Memorial House-Museum of Konstantin Stanislavsky is located today.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.