Preserved in the National Library of Russia is a 1898 album detailing the history of a school in the province of Zabaykalsky Krai, the country’s Far East. It’s so Far East it’s almost Inner Mongolia. Within the album are photographs describing the buildings, grounds, and workshops of the Emperor Nicholas II Vocational School in Chita.
Heres what we know about Chita and the school in the photos.
Like most of Far Eastern Russia, the tiny town of Chita is in the middle of thousands of miles of nothing. The Russian naturalist, geographer and anthropologist, Richard Otto Maack, famous for his pioneering exploration into Russia’s Far East and Siberia, visited the town whilst on an expedition in 1885. He found a wild place at the confluence of the Chita and Ingoda rivers. He described a wooden town, with one wooden church and under a thousand people living there. Six years later in 1891, the 27 year old future Tsar Nikolai II Alexandrovich Romanov, a man not long for this world, visited Chita. There can be only one reason why the future Tsar would visit a place like Chita. Nikolai’s father, the Tsar Alexander III had just ordered construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway and Chita would be en route. Nikolai found the place lacking and issued a government decree demanding that a school be established.
The school took three years to build and opened in 1894. It was named simply The Chita Vocational School. The year after Nicholas’s became Tsar of all Russia in a ceremony held in a small cathedral within the Kremlin, the Chita school had outgrown its building and moved to a new one.
In 1898, the new school was named after it’s instigator; The Emperor Nicholas II Vocational School.
That’s it. Have a look round, its open day.