SERBIA – Vtorovsky Passage or usually called as Vtorov House. It is a tree story building in Art Nouveau style at the intersection of Lenin Ave and Batenkova, in the square in front of the mouth of the Ushayka River, Tomsk, Siberia. An object of cultural heritage of regional importance. The building was built from 1903 to 1905 by the Siberian millionaire Alexander Fedorovich Vtorov. Construction officially ended on November 10, 1905.
The three-story building of the Vtorov Passage corresponds to the Art Nouveau style from proportions, the overall composition of the facade to the shape of door handles. What distinguishes this object of architectural heritage is that its interiors are very well preserved in comparison with other monuments of Tomsk.
The building is replete with decor. Intricate wrought-iron grilles frame the balcony of AF Vtorov former office. Almost the entire facade of the building is decorated with stylized floral ornaments and is crowned with a cartouche with griffins – a small area in the form of an unfolded sheet of paper.
In the two-light hall of the building there is a three-march front staircase. The corridors of the third floor of the building are illuminated with the help of light wells – lanterns.
On the ground floor there is an extensive department store. Through each meter stood a well-trained clerk, in each shop there were soft poufs for visitors. The stores sold not only various materials, but also clothes, accessories, including the latest Parisian fashion news, furs, shoes, underwear, blankets, perfumes, textiles, tea and other goods.
No wonder AF Vtorov is called the father of Russian supermarkets. It was at Vtorov that the packaging of goods first began to be practiced, special company boxes and paper wrappers were used, which contained advertising information (phone number and store address), and special people delivered the goods to their homes at the request of the customer.
On the second and third floors of the Vtorov Passage, the Europa Hotel, a winter garden and a restaurant are located. The hotel had sixty rooms, the most expensive of which cost eight rubles per day. The first elevator in the city and throughout Siberia worked at the hotel. The rooms had electricity and water, some had telephones.
A chimney was built in the walls – a prototype of modern heating. At the beginning of the 20th century, the famous actress Vera Komissarzhevskaya, singer Leonid Sobinov, ballerina Vera Coralli, poet Konstantin Balmont and many other stars of the world and Russian stage of the beginning of the 20th century stayed in the rooms of the Europe Hotel. In the clock restaurant, both hotel guests and any person who had the means for this could sit. A four course dinner was worth a ruble. For comparison: for this money it was possible to make four trips to a remote area of the city by cab. The orchestra played all night in Europe.
After the establishment of Soviet power, the Vtorov passage was nationalized. On March 31, 1921, the Labor Palace opened in the building. At the same time, the House of Education Workers, in which there was a theater studio was located in the former bishop’s house.
At first, there was not enough space for rehearsals and the studio was temporarily moved to the second passage. After the theater-goers moved to the bishop’s renovated and adapted for the auditorium house, the cinema was located in the building of the Vtorov passage.
In 1935, the first Tomsk department store was opened in the building. On the store’s balcony was a lobby for customers to relax, where people could buy pastry. During its existence, the store changed its name three times: “Homeware” was renamed the central department store, and that one, in turn, was “1000 little things”. In 2013, the store officially closed.
In Soviet times, this store was one of the most popular in Tomsk. It sold sets of crystal glassware, fashionable in the second half of the twentieth century. It was here that in the early 1960s the largest record store in the city was opened.
In the 1990s, paintings and art objects were sold on the second floor. There is a legend that the passage building stands on eighteen larch rafts, which allows it to float over the ancient underground channel of the Ushayka River. It was also alleged that underground passages began from the basement of the passage, laid to the Vtorov mansion and the catacombs of Tomsk.
Allegedly, through these underground passages the Second Managing Director escaped in 1919, having previously sold at half price, but for gold, the remaining goods. Currently, fairs and exhibitions are taking place in the central part of the building. On the ground floor in the part along Lenin Ave. there are shops. On the second and third floors of the building are state institutions.