Lodging house of Mertz
3, Aleksandrovsky Avenue
Lodging house of Mertz is one of the most ambiguous buildings in the historic center of Odessa. Looking at its modest facade, which leaves the impression of a background development object rather than a fashionable real estate, you can hardly imagine that it conceals a lot of interesting architectural decisions and elements of decor.
Type of building: lodging house
Style: eclecticism, Renaissance
Construction date: mid-19th century, 1860—1880s
Status: local architectural monument
The history of this house contains no significant for Odessa events. In the beginning of the 20th century a blanket&mattress factory owed by H. E. Betrakis was located here. Its advertising said:
“We offer a variety of blankets and mattresses of different sorts and sizes. Down and feathers for various pillows and featherbeds, wadding and wool, horsehair, American and sea grass. We take all the orders at affordable prices, sell our goods wholesale and retail. On request the repairing can be held at the customer’s”.
During the same period at the same address agent F. Fogt used to provide intermediary services. And in Soviet times regional department of Ukrphoto (Ukrainian photo agency) was located in that building.
As many other dwelling houses of the beginning and mid-19th added to the Cultural heritage register of Odessa, this modest two-storey building in the beginning of Aleksandrovsky Avenue is attributed. However, the only thing we know about it is the surname of its historical owner (without even initials). The house occupies a site, which is just seven windows wide along the building line, but has a considerable length deep into the quarter.
Front and rear outbuildings are of almost equal size and connected with each other with long side wings, which form the rectangular-shaped closed inner yard. All the buildings of this site are of equal height. Lack of information makes it difficult to find out the name of the author of this project. The front outbuilding is also not identifiable, because it has no details peculiar to famous architects of that period.
In contrast, architecture of the yard outbuildings is definitely of more recent origin (they were built or, perhaps, reconstructed later) and has a lot of parallels with works of I. A. Zhukovsky. For example, you can see similar decorative and space-planning decisions in facades of a huge outbuilding in the yard of Fabritsky’s mansion (40 Koblevskaya Street).
The front facade of the house has almost no stucco moldings. The first floor was remodeled to accommodate commercial structures, so its openings’ shape can hardly be called authentic. Second floor arched windows are supplemented with semicircular pediments in a perfect harmony with the bending of the upper beam. The main compositional element of the facade is an archway, decorated in baroque forms.
The house is crowned by frieze of an average width and a massive cornice without dentils. However, there is no cornice in the central part of the building and the facade plane is completed by an attic, silhouette of which looks like a stylized triangular pediment. The front outbuilding was designed according to the basic plan, typical of many other odessian gallery houses. Stairs leading to the second floor have lost almost all parts of the original handrails and just a few fragments of the thin cast iron fencing, which used to adorn the balcony-terrace over the archway, are still left.
Stairwell door of the front outbuilding
Stairwell of the front outbuilding
Side wings of the yard differ in decor, which means they do not mirror each other. The wing to the right of the arch, whose windows are decorated with non-ordered jambs, is unremarkable by its architecture and contrasts with the left wing. Window jambs of the left wing are made in modest Renaissance shapes, and in the piers between them there are trapezoidal panels with concaved edges. The most interesting detail of the left wing is a semicircular niche two storeys high, in which a loggia is located.
Inner yard facades
Architecture of the rear outbuilding is modest, but expressive. On the central axis there is a door with a semicircular opening leading to the stairwell with a long vestibule and a spacious staircase.
Stairwell door of the rear outbuilding
Decoration of the rear outbuilding stairwell is in better condition, than all the other interiors of the house. Among interesting details we can mention two unique pillars: one of them is a beginning of the entrance flight of stairs and the other is a junction place for handrails of the staircase and of the steps.
The stairwell leads to four apartments, two of which have kept authentic doors.
On the second floor our attention is attracted by a niche, where a statue or a vase could have been.
Paintings of the vestibule and stairwell ceilings survived and now they are in good condition, though colors faded a bit.
Unfortunately, the paintings, which used to adorn the stairwell walls, were painted over (around 1970s).
- “Architects of Odessa”. V. Pilyavsky
- “Architecture of Odessa. Style and time”. V. Pilyavsky
- Aleksandrovsky Avenue from Bunina to Uspenskaya Street Y. Paramonov
- Cultural heritage register of Odessa
- Dmitry Shamatazhi, photographer and compiler
- Alexander Levitsky, art-director, editor and colorist
- Marina Tomenko, editor
- Valeria Vazhnova, translator