The resort town will get its early-20th century look again. Many masterpieces of wood craft of that epoch have been facing extinction – the buildings are being taken down or reconstructed into an unrecognizable state. Now, the government has slapped a moratorium on sales of such houses. Part of them will be renovated, part will be rebuilt in accordance with the epoch’s style. Alexandra Lee with more on Sestroretsk’s renovation program.
Alexandra Lee, reporter: “One of Sestroretsk’s main spots – the Sestra river which gave name to the town. The first mention goes back to the 20s of the 4th century, but the new look of this city goes back to the 20s of the 20th century. Additional wooden layers along the boardwalk will rescue the visitors from the ever-changing weather of this resort town, new shops, cafes and volunteer center. A designated information center will be opened for tourists, the number of which is expected to grow. All this beauty, under a new brand, will become operational in around 2 years.
This is how much time the government has allocated to renovate the resort area and give it back its long-lost popularity. 3 recreational zones will appear in Sestroretsk. These will materialize in spring – and only after a discussion with the town’s residents. Sestroretsk of a century ago was a spacious town with a vast amount of walkways complemented by masterpieces of wooden construction. However, more than a hundred of those are currently in hazardous condition. 18 months ago the government made a decision to ban sales of them and renovate them, relying on its own budget and donations from businesses.
Irina Alexandrova, resident of Sestroretsk: “All these are old houses, pictures of old houses. I made them black-and-white to have a better feel of the old. The main line goes back to 1900. The entire Razliv was built between 1900 and 1905”
There are only a dozen such houses in a small village of Razliv, but one of those has a small museum. Almost all items on display are from Irina Alexandrova’s family collection. Here are granny’s kitchenware items, here are newspapers received by the grandad. There are also 1920s costumes, worn by Razliv’s fashionistas during weekend outings. Leontyevs’ maternity house can now only be seen through a fence – it was acquired by neighbors. But the masterpiece has been kept alive for 75 years by the proprietor of the lucky number – ardently asked for by the family’s head. Irina Mikhailovna insists that the forgotten beauty can be restored in Sestroretsk.
Irina Alexandrova, resident of Sestroretsk: “I wish we could see dames walking with umbrellas on the weekends. To make it really look like the old times”
The nostalgia for those times is not coincidental. In 1904 Maxim Gorky came on treatment here, in 1922 Boris Kustodiev, Sergey Esenin came here and Mikhail Zoshenko spent his last years here. Before that, having been inspired by spectacular natural beauty, Ivan Shishkin drew several sketches for famous landscape pictures.
Soft climate, passage to the Gulf, lakes, clean air, pine forests – all the makings of a genuine resort. A separate zone will be designated for children recreation with a rope park and aquatic sports center.
The beauty of nature will be preserved, only adding feats of comfort. For instance, this street – Kurortnaya – will have a random parking ban along the shore, bicycle lanes and improved infrastructure. A tourist center will be built here too. Some part of the old buildings will be raised from the face of the earth after all.
Mikhail Mokretsov, vice-governor of St. Petersburg: “The program itself is not just about renovating old wooden buildings. Some of them have no historic value, so we can place some new buildings there or create replicas of the old ones, to resurrect the town’s image. But the most important thing is to review the entire infrastructure of the town – parking places, bicycle lanes”
By the way, there will be an entirely new medical complex for rehabilitation and a store for the newborns built on the Sestra embankment, across the street from hospital number 40. The renovation of 3 zones is estimated to cost billions, but next year’s budget has only 100 million allocated for that. And this money will be spent solely on working out the program. All remaining costs will be handled by businesses – and we’ll see whether it enjoys the style of the 20th century.