The Children’s Fire-Tower officially opened this week on the grounds of the Farm Palace, located in the Alexandria Park at Peterhof. The reconstruction was based on the original 19th-century drawings of A.I. Semenov.
The miniature building was originally built in 1850 for the children of Emperor Alexander II. It was demolished for firewood by the local Soviets in the 1930s.
The Farm, Cottage and Lower Palaces, all located in the Alexandria Park at Peterhof were popular summer residences of the Russian sovereigns and their families. It was here amongst the natural beauty of the park that areas were set aside where the August children could play, and learn useful and important skills in a relaxed atmosphere. One of these skills was the ability to extinguish fires, which were common in St. Petersburg and the surrounding area at the time.
The Children’s Fire-Tower is made of carved wood, complete with a tower, a mock fire alarm, a wooden cross and a flag bearing the emblem of Alexandria (a white rose). Inside the tiny building are a fire barrel (which would have been filled with water), and the appropriate supplies: children’s helmets, hooks, axes and other tools, buckets, leather and brass sleeves, and a hose attached to a water cannon. The latter is decorated with the emblem of Peterhof, created by the firm of Gustav Liszt.
The fire-tower is one of a series of children’s miniature buildings constructed in the 19th century in the Alexandria Park, which included a farm, mill, playground, castle, tower, among others. Sadly, nothing remains of any of the other children’s buildings.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 27 July, 2012