The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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The estate of Maloye (Little) Pirogovo

The village of Pirogovo has a long history. Not far from it, near the confluence of the rivers Upa and Uperta, was an ancient settlement of the 5th – 6th centuries. People used to live here in the 12th century, which is proved by archeological finds.

For a long time Pirogovo belonged to the Temyashev family. From 1828, the owner was A. Temyashev who was a second cousin of Leo Tolstoy’s father Count Nikolai Tolstoy. Temyashev was a rich elderly bachelor who spent all his time at Pirogovo and sometimes visited the Tolstoy family at Yasnaya Polyana (about 37 km from Pirogovo). 

Temyashev’s daughter Dunechka lived with the Tolstoy family at her father’s request. Leo Tolstoy later described her as Katenka in his story “Childhood.” To provide for her living with the Tolstoys Temyashev offered to sell Pirogovo to Nikolai Tolstoy for a reduced price.

Pirogovo-Sapovo was the best among Temyashev’s villages. The stud farm that cost over one hundred thousand roubles made it a “gold-mine.” There were excellent Orlov Trotters there; they took part in horse-races and won prizes. On March 26, 1837 a purchase deed was signed in Moscow, and Pirogovo became a property of Nikolai Tolstoy.

Leo Tolstoy visited Pirogovo for the first time as a ten-year-old boy. Probably, the unfinished composition he wrote as a child (Grandfather’s Tales) was influenced by his impressions of Pirogovo.

After the division of property among the Tolstoy brothers and sister in 1847, Pirogovo went to Leo Tolstoy’s brother Sergey and their sister Maria. Sergey got the bigger part of the estate with the manor house and the stud farm, and Maria got the land across the Upa river and the mill (Little Pirogovo).

The manor house at Big Pirogovo had “amazingly beautiful architecture”. For years it was a witness to the close friendship between Leo and Sergey Tolstoy. Leo Tolstoy always showed his new works to his brother, and he valued his opinion greatly; and Sergey always waited for each work’s publication with interest and anticipation.

When his brother and sister were away from Pirogovo, Tolstoy had to look after the estate and focus on its management. He often came here to hunt. And he also wrote here. It was at Pirogovo that Tolstoy worked on Youth and The Cossacks, The Far Field, and The Kreutzer Sonata; it was here, during his stay in July of 1896, that the idea of the famous novel Haji Murat occurred to Tolstoy.  

Big Pirogovo and Little Pirogovo were located about 2 kilometers apart. At Little Pirogovo, Leo Tolstoy himself chose a place for his sister’s future house over the “deep water-spring”, where he had swum in the Upa river, measured the avenues and roads, and planted birches and pines along them. It was on this spot that a house for Maria was built. When she decided to enter a convent, Maria sold much of her land to the peasants and the estate went to her niece - Leo Tolstoy’s daughter Maria, who married her aunt’s grandson. Leo Tolstoy asked his daughter “never to abandon” Pirogovo. He liked to come to Pirogovo, where “the silence was especially pleasant,”  “to have more freedom for writing”. The poet Afanasy Fet visited the estate, and Ivan Turgenev once wrote to Pauline Viardot about three “very pleasant days” he spent here in June of 1858. 

After the October Revolution, the fate of the two Pirogovo estates was quite different. The house at Big Pirogovo was robbed and burned, and the church there was closed and gradually decayed for years. But some traces of the old park still remain.

At Little Pirogovo much more was preserved: Maria Tolstaya’s original house and fragments of the park.

Pirogovo became a branch of the Yasnaya Polyana Museum in 1999. The museum tries to give new life to the estate that was so closely related to Leo Tolstoy. The foundations of several ruined buildings were found, and reconstruction work is being carried out. The church at Pirogovo was cleaned and the first service was held there in 2008, after a break of 80 years.   

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