Mansion of Pyotr Shafirov – Count Pyotr Tolstoy – Prince Grigory Yusupov
The mansion is comprised of two connected (western and eastern) buildings which initially had different owners. The eastern and western buildings are similar in size and layout. The eastern one was built at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries. Its façades feature rich decorations.
The first known owner of the eastern mansion was Pyotr Shafirov (1679–1739). A second-generation nobleman, he came from a family of baptized Polish Jews, being a son of a translator at the Ambassadorial Prikaz (Office). Shafirov began to serve as a translator at the Ambassadorial Prikaz and ended his diplomatic career as Vice-Chancellor. From 1701 to 1723, he also headed the Post Department. Shafirov was granted the title of baron in 1710 and was awarded the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called in 1719. In 1722, he became a senator but the following year he was accused of abuse of office. The Senate’s verdict to strip Shafirov of his ranks and the title of baron and put him to death was approved by Peter I. It was only on the scaffold that Shafirov learned that instead of being executed he would be exiled for life to Siberia. However Peter ordered to send him to Nizhny Novgorod.
Once having ascended the throne, Catherine I returned Shafirov from the exile, reinstated his title and ranks, and returned him a substantial part of his assets.
After Shafirov’s exile, the mansion was given to another prominent diplomat of the Petrine era Pyotr Tolstoy (1645–1729). In 1702, he was appointed as an ambassador to Constantinople. After the Pruth River campaign, which was unsuccessful for Russia, Tolstoy and Shafirov remained as hostages in the capital of the Ottoman Empire and negotiated peace with the Turkish government. In 1718, Tolstoy was able to return Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich to Russia from Naples, where the latter was taking refuge from the anger of the Tsar. Tolstoy led the investigation on the case of Tsarevich and for his effective contribution to the case he was promoted to the position of head of the Secret Office, a domestic intelligence agency. He was awarded the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called in 1722 and given the title of count in 1724. In 1726, under the reign of Catherine I, Tolstoy opposed Alexander Menshikov and was imprisoned in the Solovetsky Monastery where he died and was buried.
In 1727, the building became owned by Lieutenant-General Aleksey Volkov. However, after Menshikov’s exile, Peter II presented the mansion to Prince Grigory Yusupov (1676–1730), one of the commanders of the Guard. Yusupov took part in the Azov campaigns of Peter I and in many battles of the Northern War. Under Catherine I, he was appointed a senator and awarded the Order of Alexander Nevsky. Under Peter II, he headed the Collegium of War. Empress Anna Ivanovna promoted him to General en Chef. Princes Yusupovs owned the estate until 1917. At the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, the Yusupovs annexed the neighboring western mansion to their property. In 1801 – 1803, the western building was the earliest remembered address of poet Alexander Pushkin as it was rented by his father Sergey Pushkin and his family.
After the revolution in 1917 and until 1929, the building housed the Museum of Nobility Lifestyle and the Naval Historical Museum. Later it was used by different agricultural institutions. In the 1920s – 1940s, the building under reconstruction which involved building a gate arch under the Dining Room and making the window surrounds simpler.