44 Lenin Avenue

A researcher's journey to Siberia


“44 Lenin Avenue: Siberia’s 2oth century history as told through its most remarkable building,” follows the history of Tomsk, Siberia, from roughly 1890-present. It focuses on a series of events that all took place in the same building, a two-story brick building in the heart of Tomsk completed in 1896 and originally designed as a church-parish school. From 1896-1909 it was a  it was a church teachers’ college, of sorts, training young men from the ages of 17-22 to become parish teachers; the building closed in 1909 following the murder of the headmaster, and reopened only in 1923 as one of the two headquarter buildings of the local NKVD (the security police), remaining in this capacity (along with a prison in the basement) until 1944; from 1944 until the late-1980s it was residential space, at first for MVD (successor to the NKVD) members and their families, and then open to others, too; and then from the late-1980s-present the building has contained various commercial and commemorative enterprises, including the Memorial Museum NKVD Investigative Prison, which operates in the basement.

Initial funding for the project came from a two-year Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant (2015-2017)
“44 Lenin Avenue” also won a SSHRC Insight Grant in 2019 for three years (2019-2022) to complete the project.