The Wawelbergs were a Polish-Jewish family who settled in St. Petersburg in the 1840s. In 1869, Hyppolite Wawelberg founded the Wawelberg Bank, which operated in Russia and Poland and gained rapid success as the main lender to the government of Congress Poland. Hyppolite's son, Michael Wawelberg, took over his father's company in 1903, and in 1912 it was renamed the St. Petersburg Commercial Bank, an accurate reflection of the company's stature and wealth. Although the company was nationalized in Russia by the Bolsheviks, and the Wawelberg family consequently lost their control, its Polish subsidiary Bank Zachodni ("Western Bank") is still one of the country's main banks today.
In 1910, Michael Wawelberg bought the buildings and land at 7-9, Nevsky Prospekt. Originally owned by the Bernikovs, a family of wealthy merchants, it was the site in the early 19th century of St. Petersburg's first English pub, prop. Thomas Roby. The competition for designs for a new building was won by Marian Peretyatkovich, a young architect of Polish ancestry, whose plans incorporated the latest in reinforced concrete technology and drew on Italian renaissance themes as a homage to the birthplace of modern banking. The sculptural decorations on the building were provided by Vasily Kozlov and Leopold Dietrich, who would later become famous for pioneering the monumental public monuments of Socialist Realism.
For most of the Soviet period, the Wawelberg Building was used as St. Petersburg's Airstation, Leningrad citizens could buy air tickets and catch buses to the airport. Many locals still refer to it as the "Aeroflot Building", although the ground floor is now occupied by cafes, and there are plans to turn the whole building into a boutique hotel.
|Address:||7-9, Nevsky Prospekt|
|Getting there:||The building is only a few steps from the metro. On leaving the station, turn left, and you will see the Wawelberg Building opposite across Malaya Morskaya Ulitsa.|
|What's nearby?||Malaya Morskaya Ulitsa, Palace Square (Dvortsovaya Ploshchad), House of the Dukes Golitsyn, Azov-Don Bank Building|