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Sumska Street

Being one of the city’s main streets, Sumska Street was established together with the Kharkiv fortress as a mail route to the Town of Sumy. As is the case throughout the city, it preserved the features of a rural way of life until the mid- 19th century. Most of the buildings here were thatched timber and wattle-and-daub houses. Observed by a visitor of that time, this scene, however, was not oppressive: the picturesque Ukrainian white huts and the richness of the estates are described in many travel notes and memoirs. But Kharkiv obtained the status of a provincial capital and that was binding: when in 1831 a ‘Plan of Kharkiv, the capital of province (including suburbs)’ was adopted, the further construction in Sumska Street, as well as in other central streets, was well-managed. Only stone buildings with the so-called ‘model’ designs approved by the specialised construction committee were allowed to be built. By the end of the 19th century, Kharkiv had become a major financial and industrial centre. Multi-storey buildings, impressive commercial estates, mansions owned by officials, merchants, and scholars were built in Sumska Street. Every house here has its own history.

At the corner of Sumska Street and Konstytutsii Square, there is a building of the former Russian-Asian Bank designed by Saint-Petersburg architects O. Munz and A. Spiegel in the style of Modern in 1910. An interesting fact about this building is that alongside the bank which used to occupy the lower floors (inside one can still find a bank lobby with octagon columns fronted with stone), the building also housed other organisations, not being involved in financial activities, e.i. — the Nurses’ Training Courses. Nowadays, the building also houses various institutions, organisations and trade companies.

A three-storey corner house (2, Sumska St.) designed by B. Mikhalovsky was built in the late 19th century in the style of French Renaissance. Today its ground floor houses ‘Puzata Khata’ Caf? offering its visitors traditional Ukrainian cuisine.

An example of a mixed-use complex combining a residential estate and a cinema is a building in 5, Sumska Street — a former lodging house with Ampir Cinema (designed by A.  Gorokhov, 1913). The construction of this building was funded by Mr. Kharitonov who was a big lover of cinematography. After the 1917 Revolution, the cinema got the name of the First Komsomolsky. Unfortunately, it does not function any more. In 1954, a residential hall for the workers of Kharkiv factories was attached to the building on the right-hand side, while the mansion on its left-hand side built in 1876 (designed by E. Guinsh) was preserved.

4 and 6, Sumska Street on the opposite side were designed by B. Pokrovsky in the style of Neorenaissance and Neobaroque and erected in the late 19th century. Later the building in 6, Sumska Street was completely reconstructed: B. Korneyenko moved towards the style of Modern. A new commercial estate is being built now on the site of the buildings previously located in 8 and 10, Sumska Street, both of which were demolished because of their decay.