San-Galli Mansion

The two-story mansion of Franz Karlovich (Franz Friedrich Wilhelm) San Galli stands on Ligovsky Propsekt in what was once one of St. Petersburg's main industrial districts. San Galli was one of the most respected men of St. Petersburg in the 19th century because of how much he did for the city and its citizens during his life. He was a real self-made man; he arrived in St. Petersburg as an ordinary artisan, and few years later he opened his own small business for the production of pipes and fireplaces. However, customers were few. Then San Galli studied the principles of heating systems of the time and invented a new heating technology - the radiator, the one that we still use to this day save for a few minor changes.

San-Galli Mansion on Ligovsky Prospekt in St Petersburg, Russia
San-Galli Mansion on Ligovsky Prospekt

After this, San Galli's factory mastered the technique of wrought iron casting and produced numerous great lattices for the gardens and estates of Petersburg, including the famous grille gates of the Winter Palace. For his services, the factory owner was granted knighthoods from the Emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II. In 1870, architect Karl Karlovich (Charles) Rachau built this Renaissance Revival mansion for San Galli and his family next to the factory. As one would expect, all of the decorations of the building were made from metal. The balconies, roof, porches, and stairs, as well as the heating, plumbing and most other fittings were created by the craftsmen of the mansion's own factory.

Entrance to the San-Galli Garden in St Petersburg, Russia
Entrance to the San-Galli Garden

Some of the building's notable interiors include a traditional office of the late 19th century; the Moorish entrance hall with Atlantes and caryatids; two tiers of windows in the Baroque dining room; and the anteroom with a fountain made of Italian marble. Behind the mansion stretches an elongated garden with linden alleys and a pond, complete with a fountain which was moved here from the anteroom in the 1960s. In the back garden, San Galli arranged both comfortable homes and a school for his workers.

Doorway of the San-Galli Mansion in St Petersburg, Russia
Doorway of the San-Galli Mansion

San Galli also played a prominent role in local politics. As a member of the City Duma, he was often asked for advice on financial and trade issues. He participated in a discussion regarding the fate of a large inheritance a famous courtesan left to the city. The Duma, showing their offensive nature, did not want to use the money for charity. The hypocrisy of the Duma so angered San Galli that he proposed that the money be used to build public toilets. At that time there were none in St. Petersburg, and so they were built.

Wrought-iron railings produced by San-Galli in St Petersburg, Russia
Wrought-iron railings produced by San-Galli

In Soviet times, the building housed part of a paper mill. The factory buildings behind the mansion were demolished in 2008, and the site will eventually be used to create a shopping and entertainment centre that reportedly with bear San Galli's name and possibly incorporate the mansion, which has recently been renovated. For now, entrance to the garden is free.

Address:62, Ligovsky Prospekt
Metro:Ligovsky Prospekt
Directions:Exit Ligovsky Prospekt Metro Station and turn right onto Ligovsky Prospekt until you reach house number 62
What's nearby? Ulitsa Marata (Marat Street)