Architecture: Exterior and Interior

House of Singer from the Street

The House of Singer on 28 Nevsky Prospect at the corner of the Catherine Canal was designed by Pavel Syuzor (1844-1919), one of Petersburg’s best known contemporary architects working in art nouveau and eclectic styles. It became the first modern office building in the late imperial capital. The city's best known example of art nouveau, it was criticized by the preservationists, who rejected its architectural style; in a 1908 issue of Starye gody (Old years), an anonymous architect asks in disbelief whether "it is really true that more ugly giants in the moderne style like House of Singer will be built" in St. Petersburg. Others because of its height criticized the building's proximity, to the Kazan Cathedral across the street, and the church of the Savior on the Blood nearby.

"The huge house of Singer on Nevsky across from the Kazan Cathedral has almost taken off its scaffolding," writes Sergey R. Mintslov, book collector and owner of one of Petersburg's private lending libraries. "It is made of iron and stone. The builders have overdone the gold to let us know that they have money, but that's all right. All in all, Petersburg is smartening up. It's time to exchange our gloomy boxes called houses for something more comfortable and beautiful!"

The name of the company in large Cyrillic letters on the equatorial strip circling the glass globe above the cupola symbolized the global reach of the Singer sewing machine. In 1926, when the name of Singer was no longer on the globe, Nikolay Zabolotsky nostalgically reinscribed it in the Petersburg sky in the poem Vechernii Bar (Evening Bar):

Там Невский в блеске и тоске,
                          …
И как бы яростью объятый,
Через туман, тоску, бензин,
Над башней рвался шар крылатый
И имя "Зингер" возносил.

(English translation)