Photos of 3 Molokan Buildings in Blagoveshchensk, Russia

Cataloged in Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.
Photos and painting of the prayer home are from several web sites and a post card.


The William C. Brumfield Photograph Collection:
From 1987-2000 William C. Brumfield took 1,137 photographic slides (color; 35mm.) for his research and teaching as a Professor of Slavic Studies at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, and as a lecturer at the School of Architecture, museums, and universities in North America and Europe.

Several hundred of the slides were taken especially for the Library of Congress project "Meeting of Frontiers" on three trips to Russia in 1999 and 2000. The photographs document the architecture of pre-Soviet Russia. Most of the structures are churches, cathedrals, and monasteries, often shown in multiple views. Structures are located in both large cities and small towns from west of the Ural Mountains eastward through Siberia. ... represented are dwellings, commercial, and log buildings along with a few views of meadows, lakes, rivers and trees.
Three of his photos (below) in Blagoveshchensk are definitely Molokan buildings the church [prayer house] and two businesses.

Details of Molokans in Amur, Far East Russia, can be found in History of Religious Sectarianism in Russia (1860s - 1917), by A.I. Klibanov, (translated) pages 184-199, 205, with statistics in the Appendix, pages 412-421. Here is an excerpt:

"...precisely in the Amur region, Molokanism found the freest conditions ... for the structuring of their life on the basis of the faith, traditions, and social and ethnical basis to which they adhered. The resettlement of Molokans in the Amur region began in 1859 ...Molokans and Doukhobors up to the 1880s were half of the rural population of  the Amur region... in 1887..'. it would not be an exaggeration to call the city of Blogoveshshensk a Molokan city' . ... [they] conduct large trading operations in meat and grain, which unfortunately are monopolized exclusively by them. ... from which operations they make large profits. ... 'the Molokans are the wealthiest class.' ... A special study of private property in land in Amur Oblast, conducted in 1910 ...showed that the proportion of Molokans among landowners was ...about 68%.."

CLICK to ENLARGE
Photo by Brumfield

The right side of the building above (covered by trees) is shown in the painting below, and the left side
(covered by trees) is shown in the 2 photos far right.
Click to
                            ENLARGE
Painting by contemporary Blagoveshchensk artist Urii Nakonechnyi
Prayer House of the Spiritual Christians (Molokane) (built ~1910)
This is the largest Molokan prayer house, church or building, in the world. Inside are many support pillars. Capacity is over 1000, the choir was in the 100s.

We don't know what happened to this largest Molokan congregation in the world. I'm not sure the building is still used for religion. In the Summer of 1999 an anthropologist from Washington state said she entered the building and saw that Baptists were worshiping, and a small original sign at the entrance identified the builders: "Молитвенный дом духовных христин молокан" ["Prayer house of the Spiritual Christian Molokans"]. But a list of historic buildings in Blagoveshchensk says it is a "Perfusiology Laboratory (artificial blood circulation), formerly a Molokan sectarian prayer building" [#55. Лаборатория  искусственного кровообращения (бывший молитвенный дом молокан -сектантов)], address: 97 Gorky Street  (ул. им. Горького, 97). Maps of the region and city below mark the prayer home location which can be seen in detail by clicking on the addresses above, or here to see the satellite image of the Moloan prayer home.

Molokans in San Fransicso have 2 more photos taken in the 1920s of the outside and inside, which will be  posted if I get images.
Click to ENLARGE
Molokans going to Sunday prayer meeting ~1910. From: Blagoveshchensk architecture

Click to ENLARGE
1912 postcard titled: Molokan prayer building Blagoveshchensk.
Click to ENLARGE
Blagoveshensk region
Click to ENLARGE
Blagoveschensk city. Click here to see
satellite image of Molokan prayer home
.

CLICK to ENLARGE Saiapin Brothers Flour Mill (built ~1899)
"During the 1880s and especially the 1890s in the cities of the Amur region , industrial production developed flour milling, lumbering, and the cheese-capitalists. The Molokans Alekseev, Voblikov, and Saiapin had a flour-milling business, whose equipment cost 132,000 rubles, and their yearly production in 1896 amounted to 643,030 rubles." [Nearly 500% return on investment (ROI) per year !] (Klibanov, page  185). Only one Molokan from Amur attended the 2nd International Molokan Convention in Ukriane in 1992   Saiapin.

CLICK to ENLARGE
Kositsyn Store (built ~1902)
After the Russian Revolution, some Kositsyns from Blagoveshchensk fled from Russia through China. They lived in Harbin (see map above) for several years with hundreds of other refugees, many were Molokans and Doukhobors. These Kositsyns then moved to Sidney, Australia, where they established a Molokan church in the 1950s. One Kositsyn was presbyter, and his brother (Leo Nick. Kocitzen) later moved to Oakland, California, and joined the San Francisco Molokan church. In the 1960s Leo was the first American Molokan to meet Dr. Stephen P. Dunn and Ethel Dunn and introduce them to other Molokans. At that time the Dunns just started to translate articles about Russian Molokans, they later published several books and many articles about American Molokans and Jumper/Maksimists.

Molokans in the Far East, from John J. Stephan, The Russian Far East: a history. 1994
Blagoveshchensk family photos by Jenny Kondrashov-Clark
"The Molokans", Through Siberia, by Henry Lansdell. 1882.
Spiritual Christians Around the World