In the second half of the 19th century, life in the still recently quiet Moscow was rapidly gaining momentum. “Something elusive has changed the general appearance of Moscow, having robbed of its previously characteristic features of the motionless backwater, the capital of the sleepy kingdom.”
With the construction of railways, it quietly became the main transport hub of the country, again acquiring the lost status of an all-Russian center. And although the official capital of the Russian Empire was still in aristocratic Petersburg, Moscow gained fame as the capital of merchants, merchants, and industry.
The city began booming trade. Moreover, Russian colleagues were actively pressed by foreigners who were more experienced in this matter. So, in the late 1890s, a fashionable hat shop called Mur and Merilize opened on Kuznetsky Most, which was named after the founders and Scottish entrepreneurs Andrew Muir and Archibald Meriliz. Trade was conducted in bulk, but just a few years later, entrepreneurs decided to switch to a more convenient retail form. And in 1892, at the very beginning of Petrovka, “Mur and Merilis”, the first supermarket in Russia, which became legendary, opened its doors. It was a store for middle-class people, where you could buy any goods except food.
Things here were of excellent quality, sellers were impeccably polite, and the halls were lit by gas lamps, which allowed shopping until late in the evening. In 1900, the store burned down, after which a nursery rhyme firmly entered the Moscow epic: “Mary is crying, Lisa is crying / There was a fire at Meriliz!” But the company recovered from the disaster and built a new huge and even more spectacular building in the neo-Gothic style on the site of the former store, with "medieval" turrets, lace of windows and modern elevators that amaze the imagination. Even now we can admire him under the fashionable black-and-orange signboard “TSUM”.
A frequent guest of the store was Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, who bought hats, writing paper, and even home furniture in Yalta. The name of the store was so common for him that with his characteristic humor, he gave his dogs the names Mir and Meriliz.
In addition to the founding fathers, the company had a third co-owner - a brilliant manager, the Englishman Philip Walter. He not only masterfully engaged in the store, expanding its assortment all the time, but also went further in the development of the brand, having founded the Furniture and Bronze Factory of the Mur and Meriliz Partnership.
For this, the company bought a significant territory adjacent to Malaya Gruzinskaya, where a complex of factory buildings was built, which also became a kind of landmark in the district, and later even gave it its name: in 1922, Okhotnychny Lane adjoining the factory was renamed Stolyarny.
For the construction of the factory, one of the most successful and prolific architects of his time was invited - Roman Klein, a craftsman who easily works in different directions. He owns many iconic and surprisingly different buildings in Moscow from the Middle Trading Rows on Red Square in neo-Russian style with balusters and platbands to the neoclassical Pushkin Museum.
The decision to invite Klein was obvious. On the one hand, the master has long collaborated with the company and built for them both a store on the Kuznetsk bridge in the possession of Prince Gagarin and a new neo-Gothic building on Petrovka. His style of English Gothic, apparently, perfectly suited the owners of the British. In addition, Klein managed to establish himself not only as a virtuoso master of eclectic mansions and shops, but also as an architect of serious industrial buildings. By the time the factory began to be built on Malaya Gruzinskaya, he had already completed the Simon silk factory on Shabolovka, the weaving building of the Prokhorov Trekhgornaya manufactory, part of the buildings of the Gyubner print factory and a number of buildings of the Trekhgorny brewery.
All of them were designed in the current pan-European “industrial style”, brought to Russia together with the most modern machines from the UK: large red-brick buildings, as a rule, multi-storey and already with metal frames, large windows, rhythmically repeating on long facades. In Moscow, such an architecture was often supplemented with white details - from time immemorial, they loved the red-white gamut.
In this vein, Roman Klein also built the “Furniture and Bronze Factory of the Mur and Merilis Partnership”. He stylized British Gothic, and the main building, similar to a Scottish castle, came out spectacular, noticeable from afar - with a high tower and powerful risalits on the facade, decorated with tall and elegant lancet windows.
Factories of the 19th century always looked like small towns, as they were built with numerous outbuildings. The Mur and Meriliz factory was no exception - it adjoined one-story rows of red-brick foundries, stables and warehouses, forming a large enclosed area that aroused the constant interest of passers-by.
The factory turned out to be another successful brainchild of an entrepreneurial shave.