Russian Village: A Brief History
Formerly known as "Churaevka," Russian Village was established in 1925 as an artistic community for Russians who fled to America after the Revolution of 1917. The village was created by two Russian writers, Count Ilya Tolstoy, the son of Leo Tolstoy, and the famous Siberian novelist George Grebenstchikoff.
Although Tolstoy was first to discover the area while visiting his translator in Southbury, it was Grebenstchikoff who dreamed of establishing a cultural center and actively planned to create a rural haven where Russian writers, artists, musicians and scientists could live and flourish.
Some other better known names connected with Churaevka are Igor Sikorsky, helicopter inventor; Sergei Rachmaninoff, composer; Michael Chekhov, actor; Baron Leo von Nolde, writer; Nicholas Roerich, philosopher and painter; and many other prominent figures in the world of art, literature and music.
The village was named after a mythical Siberian village mentioned in the works of Grebenstchikoff. Churaevka Village is still the name that appears on all property deeds. In later years it has come to be referred to as "Russian Village."
The main building in the village is the chapel which was designed by Nicholas Roerich. Commissioned by George Grebenstchikoff and financed with generous contributions by Igor Sikorsky, it was built in 1932 - 33 with labor volunteered by village residents, including a skilled stone mason named Ivan Wassileff. The chapel is dedicated to one of the most venerated saints of Russia, St. Sergius, who kept Christianity alive after the Tartan invasion of the 14th century. It is also meant to be a memorial to the Cathedral of Our Savior which was destroyed by the Soviets in 1931.
An important feature of the village was the Alatas Print Shop. The print shop acted as a publishing house to foster the dissemination of Russian culture. Grebenstchikoff used the Alatas Print Shop to publish the works of several Russian authors, as well as his own books. The building still stands, but is no longer in use.