Gavrila Solodovnikov became one of the main characters of jokes in Moscow. Everybody knew that, having more than 10 million rubles:
a) he wore a patched dressing gown at home;
b) he spent only two ten-copeck coins on food a day and asked to bring him yesterday's buckwheat at every lunch (a half-kopeck coin for one portion);
c) he used a horse carriage with rubber tyres only on the back wheels, saying that the coachman would manage to do his work anyway;
d) all the sellors at the market always kept vigilant watch on him, because he could easily pilfer something - an apple from a delivery man, for example.
However, as soon as the will of the richest merchant in the country was read, people stopped laugh at him.
The odd fellow Solodovnikov bequeathed more than 20 million rubles to charity. Also, he left his relatives and friends 815 thousand rubles and ordered to divide the rest of his property in three equal parts:
- to use the first one for foundation of women's colleges in Tverskaya, Arkhangelskaya, Vologotskaya and Vyatskaya provinces;
- the second one - for foundation of professional schools for children of any social class in Serpuhovsky district;
- and, finally, the third one - for building houses with cheap apartments for pour, single and married people.
The houses had been built for two years and accepted their first roomers in 1909. One of the buildings was occupied by single people (1225 roomers). The other house, designed in the European modern style with stained-glass windows, ornaments and facing red bricks, was used only by pour families.
Solodovnikov's house had 183 furnished one-roomed apartments with 16-21 square meters of the living space in every of it. There were four kitchens on every floor, with cold and hot water, separate tables for every family, cold pantries, Russian stoves, rooms for drying clothes and a room for a servant of cleaning work in the house. The roomers used a general library, a day nursery and consumer shop.
Both of the houses had electricity, which every roomer could use even until 11 p.m. Besides, there were elevators in the houses. It was a fantastic thing for those times.
Address: 57 and 65, Gilyarovsky Street.
On the map:
Here they are - the tenement houses "The Free Citizen" and "The Red Rhombus":