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in prerevolutionary Russia, clubs usually comprising a library with a reading room, a hall for theatrical performances and lectures, a Sunday school, a tearoom, and a bookstore. The people’s houses were maintained by zemstvos, city administrative organs, literacy societies, and private individuals. The first such clubs were opened in the second half of the 1880’s by leading industrialists. In the late 19th century the progressive intelligentsia organized people’s houses in large cities for educational purposes. The largest of these clubs were the Ligovskii People’s House in St. Petersburg, the Vvedenskii People’s House in Moscow, and the people’s houses of the literacy societies in Kharkov and Kiev. The theatrical companies affiliated with some clubs exerted a strong cultural influence, notably the People’s Theater of Ligovskii People’s House, directed by P. P. Gaideburov and N. F. Skarskaia. The autocracy retarded the cultural and educational activities of the clubs, restricting their repertoire to “loyal” plays and hindering the acquisition of books by libraries.
The Bolsheviks made extensive use of people’s houses in conducting revolutionary propaganda and organizing mass rallies. V. I. Lenin (under the pseudonym Karpov) addressed a rally in the Ligovskii People’s House on May 9 (22), 1906. After the October Revolution of 1917 the people’s houses were replaced by mass cultural and educational clubs.