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The Imperial Farm

The northern part of the Landscape Park (the Alexander Park) contains the Imperial Farm and an extensive area of land that was once used as pasture for the farm animals.

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The farm complex was constructed by Adam Menelaws between 1818 and 1828. It consisted of the pavilion for the imperial family, a dairy, a cowshed, barns for the merinos, the overseer’s house and other buildings. The animals grazed on the meadows adjoining the complex.

The farm was established not only to serve the needs of the imperial court. It was also entrusted with the task of selecting the best breeds of livestock for Russian agriculture as a whole. To this end cows and bulls of Tyrolean, Swiss, English, Dutch, Kholmogory and Ukrainian breeds were acquired in 1822, as well as 100 merino sheep from Troppau in Silesia, but by the mid-1820s almost all the imported livestock was dead from disease at which point it was decided to keep only pure-bred Kholmogory cattle (from the north of Russia) at the farm. In the 1860s–80s Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich assumed patronage of the establishment; he again brought in different breeds of livestock and sold calves. After numerous experiments by the beginning of the twentieth century the farm animals were regularly producing offspring for sale, the diary products met the needs of the imperial court and the surpluses were (with the permission of the head of the palace administration) sold to all who wanted.

The many outbuildings on the territory of the farm were barns and accommodation for the veterinary and workers. One of the two pavilions protruding in the direction of the park contained a large icehouse and creamery. The other pavilion still looked at the beginning of the twentieth century as it had when Menelaws created it – with two drawing-rooms, a dining-room, a kitchen and four rooms with divans all in readiness for visits by the Tsar or members of his family.

At present the best preserved structures in the Imperial Farm complex are the cowshed and the red-brick overseer’s house. The central part of the latter’s façade is embellished with small octagonal “Gothic” turrets; the turrets and the triangular gable topping the façade are adorned by crenellation. The façade is pierced by a large lancet window and a small round lucarne in the gable above.

Today the former Imperial Farm houses the museum-preserve’s Equestrian Complex:

 

The Imperial Farm
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