Russia: Fight is on to preserve gingerbread houses

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TOMSK, Russia — The building at 32 Kartashov Street had had enough. It once served as home to a 19th-century merchant, a little log masterpiece with ornate doors and shutters carved like doilies and a structural swagger that said, “Look at me!”

But after the Soviet years, when the place became a woebegone flophouse, it was nearly dead. An engineer might have noted that its roof had wilted and that rot was chomping at its beams. The neglect, though, seemed to go deeper, as if the building had all but given up after realizing that no one in this Siberian city could even be bothered.

A city official named Nikolai Zakotnov came by 32 Kartashov one day and vowed to rescue it. Here would stand an example of how Tomsk could defend an architectural heritage that is as charming as it is unexpected.

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