July 01, 2007

A Russian Village in Connecticut



On June 19, 1930, an enigmatic advertisement appeared in the New York Times classified section. It was buried among listings for large plots of farm land and expensive vacation homes in Connecticut:

Churaevka lies in the heart of Connecticut’s Central Naugatuck Valley. East of Waterbury, Interstate-84 crosses a bridge over the Pomperaug River, along whose banks maples, oaks and birches shimmer in the wind. A narrow, hidden, two-lane road leads north off Exit 13, quickly ascends a steep slope, and arrives at the central landmark of Churaevka: a small fieldstone chapel topped with an onion dome.

Unlike many of the urban neighborhoods in American cities where Russians settled after the Revolution, Churaevka is a bucolic village that echoes the character of dacha communities around St. Petersburg and Moscow. There is a sylvan Russian atmosphere about the place: light filters through the crimson, orange and gold leaves, and the crisp country air is faintly scented with smoke from wood-burning stoves. Connecticut’s town greens feel far away, and the chapel conjures images of an Easter procession circumambulating the chapel, of euphoric Slavonic chants and puffs of incense, of babushki preparing pirozhki and kulich, of feasting and laughing, of reminiscing about life in Russia. But this place is empty – no one is to be seen.


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See Also

Churaevka on the Map

Churaevka on the Map

Visit our Google map mashup of Russian America and you can zoom in on the location of Churaevka.

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