The Russians were here

Black And White Photography, Photography, Steven

St. Sergius Chapel, Southbury, Connecticut © Steven Willard

Just off Interstate 84, in Southbury, Connecticut, is a small collection of houses that look a bit out of place, and the focal point of that collection is this tiny Russian Orthodox chapel that was built in 1930, financed in part by aviation pioneer, Igor Sikorsky.

Churaevka, named after a mythical village in a book by George Grebentschikoff,  was imagined, along with friend Count Illya Tolstoy, son of Leo Tolstoy, as a getaway for Russian expats to get together in woods that reminded them of home. The cottages, laid out along streets with names like Russian Village Road, Kiev Drive, and Tolstoy Lane, were originally planned as a retreat for a collection of artists, writers, musicians and dancers who had managed to escape the revolution and World War I. Here they entertained guests like composer Sergei Rachmaninov and the actor Michael Chekov. In addition to the chapel and cottages, there was also a print shop built by Grebentschikoff, which published a Russian language newspaper.

The Historic District counts 46 buildings, some converted from summer cottages to year round residences.

In my numerous visits to the chapel, I have never been able to gain access to the interior. While I sometimes find the door open, there is a grill that keeps visitors out, that, and the dimmly lit interior, has thwarted my efforts to photograph the inside successfully. I haven’t given up.

Olympus OMD-EM 1 with Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 zoom, processed in Snapseed.

Visit my blog https://stevenwillardimages.wordpress.com

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