The Russians are coming!

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St. Sergius Chapel © Steven Willard

 

That might have been the cry in Southbury, Connecticut in the 1920’s as a small group of Russian emerges began buying land on the edge of town.

Just off Interstate 84, in Southbury, Connecticut, is a small collection of houses that look a bit out of place, and the focal point of that collection is this tiny Russian Orthodox chapel that was built in 1930, financed in part by aviation pioneer, Igor Sikorsky.

Churaevka, named after a mythical village in a book by George Grebentschikoff,  was imagined, along with friend Count IllyaTolstoy, son of Leo Tolstoy, as a getaway for Russian expats to get together in woods that reminded them of home. The cottages, laid out along streets with names like Russian Village Road, Kiev Drive, and Tolstoy Lane, were originally planned as a retreat for a collection of artists, writers, musicians and dancers who had managed to escape the revolution and World War I. Here they entertained guests like composer Sergei Rachmaninov and the actor Michael Chekov. In addition to the chapel and cottages, there was also a print shop built by Grebentschikoff, which published a Russian language newspaper.

The Historic District counts 46 buildings, some converted from summer cottages to year round residences.

In my numerous visits to the chapel, I have never been able to gain access to the interior. While I sometimes find the door open, there is a grill that keeps visitors out, that, and the dimmly lit interior, has thwarted my efforts to photograph the inside successfully. I haven’t given up.

 

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Roadside plaque

 

For a well researched article about this little known attraction I suggest, http://www.livingplaces.com/CT/New_Haven_County/Southbury_Town/Russian_Village_Historic_District.html

Olympus OMD EM1 with 12-0 zoom.

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One comment on “The Russians are coming!

  1. nikkorbacher says:

    I had no idea. Interesting to read about.

    Like

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