BELOGORKA IS SITUATED high on the red banks of the Oredezh river, and the estate’s parks used to stretch for some ways along them. The first estate on this land was built by a certain F.F. Bel', who purchased the property in 1798. Little was changed until 1912, when the renowned merchant A.G. Eliseev built a new manor house, designed by V.P. Tavlinov in full-on art nouveau style. Belogorka might have been Eliseev’s estate, or it might have been for his daughter; information is sparse.

While the eclectic towers and whimsical asymmetry of the exterior retain their fantastic, sort of dream-like appearance, the interiors have long moved ahead into the realm of nightmare. Belogorka’s rooms now house extensive collections of smashed and mangled laboratory equipment, broken glassware, orphaned Soviet propoganda and safety posters. Various chemicals generously sprinkled about provide color.

The estate used to be home to the Northwest Scientific Research Institute for Agriculture, but sometime in the 1990’s they moved—hastily, by the looks of it—just down the road to a new facility. They still own the estate, but don’t have much use for it.

Location: Russia / Leningradskaja oblast' / Gatchinskij rajon / posjolok Belogorka

Photography: Summer 2002, Winter 2003