House with Elephants: For Those Who Believe in Mysticism

The House with Elephants is a summer house of the Samara merchant and artist Konstantin Golovkin, who built the house by his own design in the 1910s. The elephants, made of cement, stand at entrance to the mansion, built by Golovkin himself, with the advice of his friend V. Tepfer, who later became the chief architect of Samara.

The House with Elephants turned out to be asymmetrical, with different heights (2-3 floors), with loophole-windows, a tower, several verandas and terraces. It looks very impressive from different angles. The walls in each room were of different colors, and the wall of the living-room enclosed Golovkin’s works depicting figures of women in flight. However, all this was destroyed after a large fire. The artist rejoiced at his house a short while, as it was nationalized immediately after the Revolution of 1917. Since then, the house with elephants has been used by various structures. Now it is closed.

The hollow cement elephants at entrance to the house are often assigned mystical values. Reportedly, there were intentions to destroy the sculptures in the 1930s, as they were alien to the Soviet aesthetics. However, they did not do this because of fears that it would "launch" some kind of a curse, since Golovkin was a very mysterious figure and could install the elephants just with the aim of some magic protection. There were much more rumors about the sculpture of a girl at the side facade, which was also created by Golovkin. However, people could never figure out who had served a model for the sculpture: an unknown girl who put an end to her life because of unhappy love and thus inspired the artist, or his mistress, whom he killed and buried right at the house, or perhaps his daughter.

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