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A Brief History of the AU PONT ROUGE Department Store


The history of the building of the Au Pont Rouge department store ("At the Red Bridge") in its modern form begins in 1905, when the representatives of the board of the famous Belgian-Dutch trading firm "S.Esders and K.Scheefhals", the world supplier of ready-made women's and men's dresses, bought plot of land and a corner house on the embankment of the Moika River, 73, and Gorokhovaya Street, 15.

In the same year, the Belgian-Austrian entrepreneur Stefan Esders and his partner and nephew Karl/Charles Scheefhals of the Netherlands applied for permission to build a five-story building with an attic for a modern trading house.

Permission was received, and in the period 1906-1907 at the Red Bridge under the project of St. Petersburg architects Vladimir Alexandrovich Lipsky and Konstantin Nikolaevich de Rochefort erected an unusual structure of the trading house "S.Esders and K.Scheefhals."

Stefan Esders

Stefan Esders (1852-1920)

Красный мост

Red bridge. View of the block before the construction of the building
of the department store "Esders and Scheefhals" (1900).

Здание училища глухонемых у Красного моста (1900-1905)

The building of the deaf-mute school
near the Red Bridge (1900-1905)



The basis of the art nouveau building was a massive metal frame weighing 70,000 poods (1,147 tons), the idea of which Rochefort borrowed from the recently opened building of the company "Singer" on Nevsky Prospekt, an original example of a combination of Paris and New York styles.

However, the building on the Moika is more modest, all the magnificent details are moved upward. The bottom of the house is something in tune with modern architecture, huge rectangular windows and rather narrow piers. On the fourth floor - window openings with a semicircular completion, on the fifth - double windows, and the attic floor was decorated with windows of a horseshoe shape.

Water lilies are depicted over the windows of the fourth floor, on the piers - garlands descending from the medallions. The facade from the side of the Moika River ends with a low attic with the names of the owners.

The original cut off corner of the house creates the impression of a smooth transition from Gorokhovaya Street to the embankment of the Moika River. The corner of the house was originally crowned by a tall spire [1], which bedecked the Trading House "At the Red Bridge".

After completion of works, the acceptance authority committee noted that the building of a commercial enterprise on the corner plot No. 73/15 of the right bank of the Moika and Gorokhovaya Street fully complies with the modern requirements of a large shopping center.

Вид набережных Мойки с Красного моста

View of the embankments from the Red Bridge (1890-1900)

Торговый дом «Эсдерс и Схейфальс» (1908)

Trading house "Esders and Scheefhals" (1908)

Source: Iroshnikov M.P., Shelayev Y.B., Protsai L.A, Before the Revolution. St. Petersburg in Photographs: 1890-1914, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, New York, Nauka Publishers, Leningrad, JV Smart, Leningrad, 1991



With its design and convenient placement of shopping and showrooms, storage and office premises, the building fully complied with the standards of the best European department stores of the early 20th century.

At the same time, the building became the first multi-storey store in Russia.

For ten years, until 1917, the Trading House on the Moika was considered the most fashionable and rich trading enterprise, offering comfortable conditions and a wide range of goods for wealthy buyers of St. Petersburg. It was a chic, spacious, light-flooded grand magasin, where everything was sold, from lace and gloves to cloaks and hats.

Among the customers of the store were members of the imperial family, including the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, the wife of Nicholas II.

Торговый дом «Эсдерс и Схейфальс

Trade House "Esders and Scheefhals" 1913 Source: "Petersburg through the Century", author: Karl Bulla

У Красного моста (1913)

At the Red Bridge (1913)



After the October Revolution, the building abandoned by the owners was empty for a year and a half until in July 1919 the Council of the National Economy of the Northern District of Petrograd passed a decision to transfer the building of the store to the Central Garment Factory. In 1922, this Leningrad production was given the name of the Soviet commissar V. Volodarsky, who was a tailor before the revolution.

In September 1928, the shop sewing ladies' clothing of the factory named in honor of Volodarsky was assigned to an independent factory "Bolshevichka", which became one of the most famous Soviet consumer goods industry enterprises.

In 1992, the enterprise was reorganized into CJSC "Clothes Factory of St. Petersburg" (trade mark FOSP).

Портной и закройщик снимают мерки с клиента

Trade house "Esders and Scheefhals" on the Moika.

Tailor and apparel cutter take measurements from the client (1908)

Река Мойка и Красный мост

River Moika and the Red Bridge (1910-1913)


The Building during the Soviet Period

In 1930s the steeple of the building was destroyed and several versions of this action appeared. The first runs that many Leningrad buildings of the Art Nouveau and Eclectic periods were deprived of their steeples. The last prevented the transmission of the television signal. According to another version, frequent leaking became the reason of the removal. Moreover, the steeple could have been destroyed to improve the Gorokhovaya Street and Admiralty building appearance.

As well, in 1960s the glass dome (roof lantern) was taken apart.

It stands to mention, that the buildings of “Esders & Sheyfals” company were also situated in Wroclaw, Vienna, Brussels and Paris, however, only Saint-Petersburg and Paris buildings have remained up to this day. The last serves as C&A department store.


Petrograd. The patrol of the military-revolutionary committee on the Red Bridge (1917)

The Source: Photos from the Book “History of the Civil War in USSR“, vol.2, 1943

Улица Дзержинского

Dzerzhinskogo Street, Moyka River Embarkment (1960 – 1966)

The Source: Briazgin V.N., Stukalov B. N. Photobook “Leningrad melodies”. Pub. “Soviet Artist”, Leningrad 1966

Набережные реки Мойки, Красный мост

Moyka River Embarkment, Red Bridge (1930s)

У Красного моста (1920-е годы)

Au Pont Rouge (1920s)

The Source: Book “Architectural Panoramas of the Neva’s Banks”

Движение троллейбусов по улице Дзержинского

Trams Movement in Dzerzhinskogo Street. May, 30 1944

The Photographer V. Fedoseev. The Source: http://jabberwoker.livejournal.com/11875.html

Мойка у Красного моста (1925-1930)

Moyka River at the Red Bridge (1925-1930)

Швейная фабрика им. В.Володарского у Красного моста (1989)

Sewing Factory n.a. V. Volodarsky at the Red Bridge (1989)


Reconstruction of the Building

In 2009-2014 the building was reconstructed by “BTK Development”. In particular, the following elements were restored: the tower with the steeple in the form of caduceus (staff carried by Mercurius, the patron of commerce); golden inscriptions in French and Russian (the spelling is preserved in pre-reform, pre-revolutionary writing - for example, "Tuzhurki"); and the attic with the owners’ names.

None of the exact drawing of the steeple is preserved, so it has been recreated after the drafts and photographs. However, the size of it is exactly the same as it was in the original - 29 meters in height.

The building is an architectural monument of federal significance and it is included in the UNESCO world heritage site "Historic Center of Saint-Petersburg".

Универмаг Au Pont Rouge

Au Pont Rouge Department Store (2017)


Additional Information:

С.Зуев «Течет река Мойка. Правый берег от Невского проспекта до устья», М.-СПб, Центрполиграф, 2014

А.Мухин «Почему в Петербурге возобновился архитектурный спор вековой давности» журнал «Город 812», 23.08.2012 г., online812.ru/2012/08/23/001/

Между цветными мостами. От Зелёного моста к Синему: прогулка по Мойке (часть 2) http://www.mishanita.ru/2012/11/15/17887/

[1]   Кивер – в архитектуре барокко стран восточной Европы – вычурное перекрытие, соединяющее элементы купола, шатра и шпиля.