On Friday, August 10, in the town of Kondopoga (Republic of Karelia) a fire destroyed the unique wooden Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God, an 18th-century cultural heritage landmark of Federal significance. The church was built in 1774 on the shore of Kondopoga Bay in Lake Onega and was a major monument of wooden architecture, the historical culmination of the evolution of «tent» tower churches in the Onega school. The website of the Kondopoga Regional Museum, which had supervision over the church, calls it «the apogee of wooden 'tent' tower architecture in Russia.» It was the fourth church built on this site; almost all its predecessors also perished by fire. On the inside the church contained a four-level icon screen with icons from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as a painted sloped ceiling. The reasons for the fire, from which the architectural monument burned to the ground, have not been determined, but among the likely versions is arson. Whatever the reason, this unique wooden church with an almost 250-year history cannot be returned.

«This is simply a tragedy», such was the response to the occurrence by the American scholar of the architecture of the Russian North, professor William Brumfield. «I was in that church 18 years ago, in 2000, and took many photographs on both the exterior and interior. This was a unique monument, and there are simply no words to describe what a serious loss this is for culture».

The William Brumfield Photographic Archive, numbering many thousands of his photographs--the result of the professor's scholarly work, is accessible on the site cultinfo.ru. His photographs of the Kondopoga Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God taken from various perspectives, as well as views of the icon screen and painted ceiling, can be seen at this English-language link.

Brumfield noted that he did the photographic documentation when the icon screen was undergoing restoration.

Теги: Kondopoga, William Brumfield