“TheCeļotājs” –
Russian Tsar’s Remnants of Karosta Naval Port
Navy Officers’ Conventions – ANNO 1907 
Lat: N56.55188, Lon: E021.00506 
Atmodas bulvāris 9,
Karosta, Liepāja, Latvia
Notice: This building and its complex of buildings is now located inside a fenced in and restricted area and is no longer accessible to the general
public. Even photographing it from the street side of fence line area is STRICYLY PROHIBITED by the Latvian Self-Defense Military. 
The first house ornamented with eclectic front was erected in 1895 and it was the Chief Commander’s Headquarters. During the period of 1909-1912, A. V. Kolchak “1874-1920” lived in this house. He was a commanding officer of the Baltic Fleet Mine Division, later on during the Russian Civil War, :1917-1920” White Guard’s Commanding Officer. Because of him this house is also known as “Kolčak’s House”. The admiral, surrounded by senior officers and all sitting in comfortable arm-chairs, from a specially arranged convenient oversight area on the roof of the Headquarters, used to observe the naval ships maneuvering in the roads and following the commander’s orders and light signals of the signal system operator. At the same time, this palace like building till 1908 was also the provisional premises of the navy officers’ conventions and the Navy Headquarters. 
There is a State importance architectural monument in the back of the courtyard, Navy Officers’ Convention building or Officers’ Palace. The plan of the Officers’ Palace was drawn up by the Saint Petersburg’s architect S. Galyenzovsky “1870-1917”, the engineering arrangements were produced by J. Blyiznyansky “1867- ?”. The whole set of drawings for construction of the palace and other houses were approved on 21 April 1896. The foundation stone of the Palace was laid in March 1898. Then construction operations were blocked over “1901-1903. Finally, the approval resolution was passed on 5 July 1907 when the statement of acceptance was signed. 
0.62 Million Russian Rubles were invested into construction of the Officers’ Palace. The perimeter of the foundation is 533.58 meters, height of the building 42.49 meters. And the mentioned oversight area on the roof of the Palace is 3700 m2. The building was designed to comprise 30 rooms including library with reading room, aquarium hall, restaurant with the summer balcony and balcony for the orchestra. The orders from the kitchen to the restaurant were delivered by electrical elevator. 
A splendid opening Gala Party in the Palace was arranged at the very end of 1907, on 27 December. The beginning of this party was scheduled at 21:00hrs and the first guests were welcomed by the Palace seniors and party organizers and Conta-Admiral I. Grigorovich “1853-1930”, the Commander of the Alexander III Naval Port of Liepāja. The city councilors, traders and producers, the major ship owners and other prominent persons were invited. Among the guests, there were also the Governor of Kurzeme, the Commandant of the Liepaja Naval Fortress, a number of senior officials from the capital of the Russian Empire Saint Petersburg; from the Ministry of Communications and Naval Affairs, from the army and navy general staff and as a Crown of the Prominences, the members of the Tsar’s Court. The ladies received flowers, the dance program and the Russian Saint Andrew flag colors ribbon with a special bronze badge attached in honor of the opening celebration. The metropolis as well as the local journalists reported that the Gala Party had been great, a number of new faces and marvelous dresses of ladies could be sighted. 
The house of the Navy Officers’ Conventions is a grand building shaped in the Slav P-form (П) and imitating the architectural style of suburb palace complexes in Saint Petersburg. The house exterior is perfected by adding columns, plentiful plastic decors with the Russian weapon glory motifs and art nouveau elements. The composition of the building is crowned with a mighty spherical cupola covering overhead the central hall. Due to the exterior and interior architecture of the Officers’ Palace, exactly selected location and the composition of a unified ensemble it surely ranks among the most prominent public building throughout Liepāja and Latvia and in list of national heritage. 
The exterior and interior of the house was made from 8 December 1904 to 17 November 1906 by the Russian artist N. Rubtsov and the French sculptor Charles de Grange “Charles Desgange”. Furniture was produced by the R. Berman’s furniture producers in Saint Petersburg. The Russian Ministry of Naval Affairs ordered 3 pictures at 6.5 thousand rubles for the Palace they were the portraits of the Tsars, Alexander III and Nicholas II and the oval of the Grand Duke, the Navy Admiral General Aleksey. These art pieces were so big that they were brought from Saint Petersburg to Liepāja by ship, as they could not be placed into a rail carriage even without the frames. 
Interior decoration order was made to the French sculptor Charles de Grange by the command of the Grand Duke, General Admiral Aleksey. The plan envisaged to carry out decoration of the vestibule, the central staircase, the grand hall and one of the guests’ rooms in the style of Louis XVI, while the other guests’ room, the buffet and the dining room were to be performed a la modern. The interior paintings were different in the two guests’ room; the color was marine blue in the one to the left from the grand hall; these were the ladies’ apartments, while the room beside the restaurant was in green and that was the gentleman’s’ smoke room. The central hall was used to arrange parties, to deliver lectures, to hold official convention with a big amount of participating officers. There was no particular stage in the hall but it was mounted as soon as required. Together with the mass of folding chairs the stage was stored in a specially erected one-story outbuilding within the house complex of the Palace. 
The main stairs are made of Crimea marble. These are a masterpiece of the stonecutter Ernst Vernetti from Odessa. The backyard exit stairs were made of sawn Estonian grey dolomite. 
A unique heating system was used in the palace; the warm air from the heated water reservoirs in the basement circulated over all of the rooms through special shafts. The sophisticated was produced by a Saint Petersburg metal plant. The constructed palace complex included also land-tennis court, living extensions for the seasonal workers and two-storey houses with flats for the palace cashier, librarian, housekeeper and rooms for the officers on mission. In the northern part of the complex, there was a low park a la Versailles, a paved road to the Tsar’s yacht pier, teashop and an ice cellar. From the backyard’s three sides, the complex was enclosed by a subtly ornamented chiseled fence with artistic cut monograms of the Tsar Alexander III. 
The front of the building is turned towards the sea. The street parallel to the colonnade of the façade used to be the major street of the Naval Port, the Admirals’ street, and it was paved with stone cut in Finland. 
Upon beginning of World War I the huge library of charts and books of the Palace was evacuated to Russia, in Moscow and Petrograd. So were the chandeliers, the contents of the wine cellar and part of the furniture. From May 1915 till March 1919, a German war hospital and recreation space for German officers were, located there in the palace. Then under the following Latvian government, the palace complex was not managed by anyone till 1927. 
In 1928, the Latvian Red Cross organization signed a lease treaty with the Warfare Department of Latvia for 25 years and began to arrange a sanatorium of bone tuberculosis there. Reconstruction was conducted by A. Klinklavs, an architect from Riga. The jobs didn’t include more, though, than simple adapting of the horse stables, hothouses and other household buildings. Planting and lawn treatment was made in the park and all over the territory up to the former yacht harbor. 14 Lilac sorts were put into ground under the gardener P. Zeidak’s guidance. When reconstruction was over the whole Bone Tuberculosis Sanatorium of the Latvian Red Cross was brought to Liepāja from the previous place in Riga’s seaside, Asari. Finally to disclose the historical background of the Navy Officers’ Conventions, one should mention that most of the time it was a Soviet Navy Hospital. This was from the eve of World War II in 1939, when the Latvian Red Cross Sanatorium had to vacate the house for the Soviets and over a number of years after the War till May 1994 when the last persons of the neighboring country’s troops left Liepāja in conformity with the interstate agreements.
Revised: 12/22/2012 – 17:08:25