Culture News, 17/04/2018

‘Lost through Indifference.’ Old Palace Ruined by Fire

Yesterday April 16, a unique architectural monument of national value Shydlovsky’s Palace was destroyed by fire in Stary Merchik, Kharkiv region.

The fire started at about 10-11 p.m. April 15. Unfortunately, the fire engine was not called immediately as the historic building is situated at a distance from the housing area, so the fire was unnoticed for some time while spreading.

The rescuers report that the fire extinguishing was complicated by the fact that the floors, partitions and staircases were made of inflammable wood. The area of 550 square meters was burning as a whole. The fire was localized in the morning, April 16, however the building’s ceiling, roof and its oaky staircase were destroyed completely.

The incident stirred indignation among Kharkiv historians, architects and activists who have repeatedly warned the authorities about the poor condition of the historical architectural monuments in the Kharkiv region – and of this outstanding building particularly – and risk of their ruining.

“We are losing our past and our identity due to the total indifference and lawlessness. And these losses are irretrievable,” says Head of Kharkiv Anti-corruption Centre Dmytro Bulakh. The activist assumes the inflammation not to be accidental but caused by arson.

“I have only one question, what is the next treasure to be destroyed?” asks another activist and historian Anton Bondarev, who visited the fire site yesterday. “Which of the beautiful architectural monuments of Slobodska Ukraine will be set in ‘accidental’ fire tomorrow or the day after tomorrow?”

Still, the Kharkiv officials state that “the cause of the fire is to be investigated” and that the building might be reconstructed as it had been insured.

Reference: The Shydlovsky’s palace was built in 1776-1778 and belonged to the family of the largest Kharkiv landowners Shidlovsky. During the Soviet occupation, the mansion was given to the agricultural school, which later became a technical school of veterinary medicine. Since 1997, the Shidlovsky Palace was empty and ruining gradually.

Text: Olena Sokolynska

Photo: Anton Bondarev, Bogdan Bondarenko