Residence of the Russian Ambassador to the U.S.
1125 16th Street, NW, Washington, D.C.
The building that now accommodates the residence of the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. was built in 1910 at the request of the widow of the well-known industrialist George Pullman for her daughter, who was married to Frank Lowden, House Representative from Illinois. The building permit estimated the cost at $125,000, whereas the completed house already cost $361,000 in 1910.
However, Frank Lowden due to his deteriorating health was unable to participate in 1910 electoral campaign and left Washington in the spring of 1911. As for Mrs. Pullman herself, she never moved into the new house but sold it, in 1913, to one of her friends, Mrs. Natalie Hammond. The mansion with its decorations was considered the most expensive building in Washington at the time.
The same year, in 1913, the Russian Imperial Government purchased the mansion for $350,000 to serve as the Russian Embassy, and Ambassador George S. Bakhmeteff became its first occupant. George Bakhmeteff remained ambassador until the collapse of the Tsarist Government. In February 1917 he left his post and moved to Paris where he lived for the rest of his life. The next Ambassador Boris A. Bakhmeteff (no relation to George Bakhmeteff) arrived in June 1917 and served for a few months representing the Provisional Government of Alexander F. Kerensky.
After the October 1917 Revolution, and with the collapse of the Kerensky regime, Ambassador Boris A. Bakhmeteff left the Embassy and moved to New York where he started teaching hydraulics at Columbia University. The building was left in custody of Sergey A. Uget, former Financial Attache and Charge d’Affairs, who served under both Tsarist and Kerensky regimes. During the period of 1925-1933 Col. Alexander I. Krynitsky lived in the chancery wing of the building with his family as caretaker. Col. Krynitsky originally came to the United States in 1915 as chief inspector of time fuses being produced for the Russian Army and was stranded in the U.S. by the Revolution. By 1925 he had become a naturalized citizen of the U.S.
In 1933, after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the U.S. the building was passed into the possession of the Soviet Government. Architect Eugene Schoen was invited from New York City to carry out reconstruction of the interior in the style of “Art Modern”. However, when Schoen took a look at the building he came to the conclusion that such reconstruction would be very expensive and what is more – useless. When he was asked what he thought about the luxurious golden walls of the Grand Hall, he answered that he would preserve them intact down to “the last hair of the last Cupid”. He also suggested to bring some articles of antique art from Russia for the decoration of the rooms. His advice was considered and the golden decoration of the rooms was preserved and subsequently renovated in 1957 and 1975.
Until 1994, the house had been used as the Embassy of the Soviet Union and subsequently Russia. The interior space of the building was partitioned into offices and the majority of halls and reception rooms were used as offices.
In the late 1990s of the 20th century the building underwent considerable renovation in accordance with the original floor plans of the early 20th century. Some of the partitions were removed and the reception rooms were restored to their original grandeur.
The house is one of the American architectural monuments, which is reflected on the plaque installed on its facade. An article about this building that houses the residence of the Russian Ambassador will be featured in the new almanac dedicated to the most notable mansions of Washington, D.C.
Many well-known Russian and Soviet diplomats, including A. Troyanovskiy, M. Litvinov, A. Gromyko, A. Dobrynyn, A. Bessmertnykh and Y. Vorontsov, Y.Ushakov worked and lived in this house.