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Former lodging house of the Salamander Insurance Company

One of the most beautiful buildings in the city erected in 1914–1915 by a competitive design of famous St. Petersburg architect N. Veriovkin was built for the Salamander Insurance Company. This Company was founded in 1848 in St. Petersburg and had subsidiary offices in several cities in Russia. The Kharkiv office was dealing with fire insurance. Salamander (a small lizard capable of living in the fire, as medieval legend has it), a symbol of the company, was depicted on the stucco roundels of the corners of the building.

The building was fitted with all kinds of engineering installations, such as lifts, rubbish chutes, internal water drains, which were unique at the beginning of the 20th century. Shortly after the revolution, a variety of governmental institutions and design studios with 1,500 employees had been located there until the late 1920s when they were moved to Derzhprom (the Building of State Industry).

Unlike the composed and solid features of the Salamander Insurance Company facades, the former lodging house of the Zhyzn (Life) Insurance Company (19, Sumska St.) was designed with “a set of various Renaissances” — this is how historians of art described eclecticism, i.e. a mixture of different styles and periods. Here you can find the Renaissance lion masks, frowning soldiers in crash-helmets, as well as coquettish women’s heads.

The building of the Council of the Southern Russian Mine-Owners Union (18–20, Sumska St.) was co-designed by B. Mikhalovsky (1920) and S. Zagoskin (1907). On both sides of the front door there are oval sculpted medallions representing mining tools, thus indicating the functional purpose of the building. In 1911 the building housed the first aviation exhibition organised by the Aeronautic Department of Russian Technological Society. Aircrafts of various systems, including those built by Kharkiv aeroplane designer S. Hryzodubov, were exhibited there. Since 1936 the building had housed the Industrial Academy, and in the post-war period — the Aeronautical Institute. Nowadays the building is the home for the Radio Engineering Technical College.