The Tolstoy House used to be a part of the architectural ensemble that was designed and partly built by Tolstoy’s grandfather Prince Nikolai Volkonsky and finished by the writer’s father Count Nikolai Tolstoy. Leo Tolstoy moved into this house in 1856, after he left the army, as the large manor house had already been sold and removed from Yasnaya Polyana by that time. In 1862 Tolstoy brought his young wife Sophia to this house. And it was here that most of his children were born (11 of the 13 children born into the family).
As time went by, the house became too small for the growing family, and Leo Tolstoy decided to add more rooms to it. In 1871 the construction of the extension of the southern side of the house began. On February 20, 1872 Tolstoy wrote to his friend, the poet Afanasiy Fet: «... you won’t recognize our house: we have been using the new extension all winter long». Upstairs a spacious dining room with six windows appeared. Now all the family and numerous guests gathered here. The downstairs part of the extension included a new entrance hall with the staircase leading to the upper floor, and one more room, which Tolstoy decided to use as his new study. It was the study where the novel Anna Karenina was written from beginning to end.
The last extension was built on the opposite side of the house, facing the “Wedges” Park, and it was finished in 1894. Now the house was completed.
Leo Tolstoy lived in this house for over 50 years. All the objects, books, and paintings in it are original; they used to belong to Tolstoy himself and to his family and ancestors. The interior of the house is kept as it was in 1910, the last year of Tolstoy’s life.
There are flower beds around the house. Tolstoy’s wife Sophia was very fond of flowers and she liked to look after them herself. Her favourite flowers are still grown in these flower beds.
«We were sitting in the veranda, preparing for tea. By this time the garden was all green, and the nightingales had taken up their quarters for the whole of St. Peter's Fast in the leafy borders. The tops of the round lilac bushes had a sprinkling of white and purple - a sign that their flowers were ready to open. The foliage of the birch avenue was all transparent in the light of the setting sun. In the veranda there was shade and freshness» (Leo Tolstoy. Family Happiness).