Conservation works of Puutli church

Toimumise aeg: 02.05–07.05.2016

Puutli kirik

Conservation works of Puutli St Nicolai Orthodox Church

May 2-7, 2016

You are welcome to join an international crew of volunteers to contribute into the conservation works!

Local NGO Vanaajamaja in cooperation with the Estonian Heritage Board has initiated conservation works of tiny wooden Orthodox Church in South-East Estonia, close to the Russian border. The church is not in the active usage and the state of the building is dilapidated, but it has essential place in the identity of local community and important part in the local history. Therefor the building will not be restored for active use, but just conservated to maintain. There is a tiny village graveyard on the church hill. The wooden church is not under heritage protection.

Works to be done
In the fall of 2015 the log walls were reinforced by the forestry students of Estonian University of Life Sciences under their practice lessons. In the spring of 2016 we plan to restore the tower and change the roof cover to wooden shingle roof with the help of a crew of volunteers. The works during the workshop will be: taking down the old roof, reinforcing the tower with diagonals, building a new timber frame structure for the tower roof, cutting and installing perlins (katuseroovid), installing wooden shingle roof, re-installing the old ceiling where possible, replacing water protection plank (veelaud), making front door. The aim is to use power tools as few as possible, only to erect scaffolding. The works are coordinated and lead by Andres Uus.

The crew

Wow! During the first two days after announcing the call for volunteers we got notifications from a great list of enthusiast who are willing to join! Great! The team is not big, it means we basically have the spots booked. Now, if there still are a couple of experienced carpenters who are keen to join, please let us know.


Lodging and fees
A simple accommodation is organized in close by community house with modest conditions, all meals and sauna will be organized by local families. No international travel support could be offered for the volunteers, but local transportation is organized.

Location: Puutli village, Vastseliina parish, Võru county, Estonia MAP

Contact: Andres Uus, project manager, phone +372 5250 516,

Conservation works are supported by State Forest Management Center, Vastseliina Municipality and local community.

Historical overview of the church

Nine families form Irboska, (present day in Russia) moved to live here in the 1920s. They bought farms, built up their households and sent their children to the local Loosi school. Soon the need for the orthodox church emerged.

The initiators of the building process were three brothers – Aleksander Grihin, Vassili Grihin and Aleksei Ulejev – and two more settlers Ivan Nosov and Matvei Kupkov.

One of the settlers donated a sandy hill for the site of the church and the graveyard. According to the descendants of the builders, the frame of the church was bought with the money collected by the families and material came from their own forests. Everybody, who knew anything of building, gave a hand. Orthodox congregations from Võru, Obinitsa and Petseri helped to equip the church. The insight of the church was generously decorated with ornaments and icons. The building is dated 1935, the cross was erected and consecrated in 1937 (1938).

One of the community leaders, Ivan Nosov, was literate (which was not so common in these times) and thus it was him who read the holy books and conducted everyday services for the congregation. On the great feast-days, the priest from Võru or Obinitsa came to conduct.

In 1930ies the hill was plain and sandy so that one could see up to the Russian border over the river of Piusa. The first deceased, Aleksander Grihin, one of the initiators of the church building, was buried under the only pine of the hill. In nowadays the hill is covered with pine forest and 35 people have found their last rest in the graveyard beside the church. The last one, Vassili Grihin, also one of the initiators of the building, was buried on December 4th, 2013.

During the soviet time the church was looted several times and nothing of the furnishing or decoration has remained. In 1986 the local community put up a new roof to protect the building and erected a new cross for the tower. During the times there have been four different bells up in the tower, the latter is preserved and is waiting to get up and ringing again.

Church site and start of the conservation works:

Koolituse toimumise koht:

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