The Olovyanishnikovs

Olovyanishnikov Bell Foundry
The Olovyanishnikovs
Olovyanishnikov Bell Foundry

The Olovyanishnikovs foundry dynasty

The Olovyanishnikovs began their family with monastic peasants. That is, from the same serfs, only without a chance to be redeemed free. So even before the Olovyanishnikov bells sounded in the belfries, and their chandeliers shone in the churches, this family did the impossible. The Olovyanishnikovs are a Yaroslavl merchant family descending from monastic peasants. The first mention dates back to the 17th century.

The founder of the clan is Ivan Porfirievich Olovyanishnikov (1783 – 1859). The first reminder of the Olovyanishkovs meets us at the entrance to the center of Yaroslavl. Of course, the current bridge over Kotorosl, which was built relatively recently, by the millennium of the city, has nothing to do with famous merchants. But the first permanent crossing of this river appeared in 1821 and it was thanks to the financial assistance of the Olovyanishnikov family.
It is noteworthy that a bridge across another river, across the Volga, appeared almost a hundred years later, in 1913, and the Olovyanishnikovs had practically nothing to do with this. But, of course, the Volga, albeit the Upper one, is not Kotorosl for you, building crossings across such a river is a troublesome and expensive task. But the truth is that the Olovyanishnikovs, like other merchants and industrialists, had to transport their products to Moscow, that is, to the southwest, across the Kotorosl River. And in the east, they had no interests.
It was at the junction of this charity and rationalism that most of the industrial families of early Russian capitalism lived.

Olovyanishnikov bells at an exhibition in Russia
Olovyanishnikov bells at an exhibition in Russia

But, perhaps, it is in the case of the Olovyanishnikovs, whose entire activity was connected with the church, that this contrast is particularly clear. Olovyanishnikov went down in history as Kolokolnikov and manufacturers of Church utensils.
The term “Orthodox businessman” is a relatively recent linguistic construction, but the problem of combining spirituality, competition, and commercial rationalism arose, of course, much earlier. And Olovyanishnikov had somehow to solve it. Studying the history of famous merchant families, you can’t help noticing that the number of preserved material objects created by famous entrepreneurs is inversely proportional to the size of the city. Yaroslavl was not small even 100 years ago, but now it has grown completely, burying much of what was created by the Olovyanishnikovs. However, there are things that seem eternal.
At the end of the 17th century, the Olovyanishnikovs were monastic peasants, they belonged to the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery, but lived forty kilometers from Yaroslavl in the village of Savinsky. And already in the middle of the XVIII century, the bells of the Olovyanishnikovs sounded over this very monastery. They sound here and now, surpassing the remakes in sound. Even before the Olovyanishnikovs became famous throughout the empire as the tsars of the bell ringing, they belonged to almost the most disenfranchised Russian class. The data on what kind of monastic peasants were somewhat different, their position depended on the policy of a particular monastery. And by Olovyanishnikov might have gotten lucky.
The Transfiguration Monastery was a very liberal place, especially for the 17th century. There were merchant peasants there. This was an amazing class: on the one hand, they were assigned to the monastery, and on the other-they traded all over Russia. However, before conquering all of Russia, it was necessary to settle at least in Yaroslavl. The church of Dmitry Solunsky, dating from the second half of the XVII century, is probably the only surviving witness to the birth of the Olovyanishnikov dynasty. In 1787, Yaroslavl was rebuilt according to a new regular plan, and in this plan there was no place for Rozhkova Street, where in 1709 Osip Ermolaevich, the future Olovyanishnikov, settled.
There is an entry in the census book of the Dmitrievskaya hundred from 1717, according to which Osip, the son of Yermolaev, makes tin products and sits in a vegetable row, in a shop. It is hard to imagine now, but tin was the most common metal in those days, both in everyday life and in religious institutions. Silver and gold things were only in the capital, in the royal, in the large monasteries, in the Spassky monastery there was silver, and in the subordinate and ordinary places there were tin things everywhere, so the market for tin products was very extensive.
It is not known how the fate of the Olovyanishnikovs would have developed, if not for their acquaintance with the merchant and bell-ringer Konstantin Slizov. It is said that it was from him that the founders of the dynasty learned the basics of craftsmanship and started a new business for themselves. At that time, they were engaged in casting bells directly in the courtyards of churches under construction, there was no factory in the modern sense of the word, and there were no regular customers.
The basis of the bell-ringers ‘ welfare was the temporary order of churches and monasteries. For them, church utensils were made, they did not disdain construction work. In general, what is now called freelancing. This is work under contracts, under contracts. To make production more stable and profitable, the Olovyanishnikovs created something like a cooperative, contributions to the authorized capital could be both material and intellectual, the division of profits was a serious incentive for representatives of the exotic profession at that time – masters of bell casting.

The Olovyanishnikovs are a Russian merchant family of Yaroslavl origin, the largest bell manufacturers in the Russian Empire.

The Olovyanishnikovs made their way from the tin business to the Silver Age, when they were engaged in silver and in this sense competed with Faberge, since in the field of church art, it is believed that the Olovyanishnikovs even surpassed Faberge. They worked more interestingly, gave a more spiritual result, thanks to the artist of their company.
The choice of artists Olovyanishnikov treated with great attention. For example, at the beginning of the XX century, the art department of the company was headed by Sergey Ivanovich Vashkov, one of the leading figures of Russian Art Nouveau. In general, the attraction of star professionals was a hallmark of the growing dynasty. The dynasty was engaged in bells, at the same time it was serious about the training of its professional personnel, and it spoke very seriously about its specialists. They highly valued their bell-making specialists, and were among the highest-paid workers in the territory of old Russia.
The company had a wonderful master – Ignatiy Verevkin and his son. His work at that time was very well paid. He was born in the Ryazan province and built a stone church at his own expense. High costs for specialists were part of the personnel policy. The main priority of which was quality. People focused on the quality of their products, which won almost the entire market. And secondly, they used, as we say today, the introduction of innovations, they used a new invention-a tuning fork, which allowed them to create bells of different tones, some bell scales. Which allowed people to take over the market. The desire for innovation is another feature of the Olovyanishnikov family.
For example, in their apartment building on Pokrovka, an autonomous water supply and a central dust removal system were installed. Olovyanishnikov equally attentive to his house. The current Ushinsky Street is both then and now the border between the old city and the new one. Once there was a wall of city fortifications, and here you can still see the fortress tower. House No. 32 is the last address of the Olovyanishnikovs in their native Yaroslavl. The house of the Olovyanishnikovs, although three-storeyed, like the neighboring ones, is much higher.
It was in this house that the first elevator in Yaroslavl appeared, and through the main gate, the head of the family, Nikolai Ivanovich, drove in his “Oldsmobile” – the first private car in Yaroslavl.
But the Olovyanishnikovs ‘ house is not just such a secluded center of progress; the entire block built by the Olovyanishnikovs began from here. So this is such a new world on the border of the old city. Decades of Soviet and post-Soviet power have not passed without a trace for this place, and it’s not just about spontaneous folk art. Buildings constructed Olovyanishnikov, there is almost not preserved. But something else can be found. Among the new bricks, the old masonry is preserved, the building itself dates back to the 18th century, this is all that remains of the bell manufactory of Olovyanishnikov.

In 1750, the first public theater in Russia, that is, a public theater, was opened in Yaroslavl. It is not known whether the Olovyanishnikovs had anything to do with the construction of this temple of art, but it is known for certain that just opposite the temple of art they built a whole church complex, called the Vlasyevsky parish. After the revolution, the complex, of course, was demolished, and in the 30s, the Yaroslavl hotel was built in its place.

Of course, all the rich and famous merchants and industrialists built churches, there was nothing special about it, it was not even an out-of-the-ordinary event. But the Olovyanishnikovs built not just a temple complex of cathedrals, a bell tower, of course, and rooms for ministers. They built a huge block, which also included the so-called charitable institutions.
On the other, not the front side of the block, which was once occupied by Vlasevskaya volost, now it is Sobinov Street, there is a building of the former almshouse, that is, a shelter for the poor and destitute. Vlasyevsky parish was closed in 1929, and demolished in ‘ 33. Most of the bell foundry was destroyed by artillery fire in 1918. In the same year, under mysterious circumstances, the last head of the Olovyanishnikov family, Nikolai Ivanovich, the son of Nikolai Porfiryevich, died.
Now the family necropolis is almost the last direct mention of one of the most influential families of Yaroslavl. “Manufacturing adviser Porfiry Ivanovich Olovyanishnikov”. At the Leontyevsky cemetery in Yaroslavl there is a monument to the man who turned the bell manufactory into a real modern enterprise, and a whole necropolis of the Olovyanishnikov family. Strange thing, for decades the Soviet government killed the memory of people who could act and think independently, but these tombstones and words from the Gospel of John “I am the Resurrection and the Living, and believe in Me, if he dies, he will come to life”

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