Mikael Aramyants – An Industrialist and Patron of Art

Mikael Aramyants

A native of Karabakh, Mikael Aramyants lived and worked in Tiflis. He had extensive experience in the trade of sugar and cotton and was an owner of apartment houses, estates, cottages, boarding houses, and sources of healing mineral waters in Akhtal and Kislovodsk.

Mikael Aramyants played a huge role in the development of the oil industry in the Caucasus. He was one of the first to transfer most of his capital to Baku in order to transport oil by rail.

At that time, patronage and philanthropy was a priority in the activities of rich Armenians who lived in Tiflis in the 19th century. Even among many other patrons of art, co-founders, and board members of the Tiflis National Charity Society, Mikael Aramyants stood out as one of the richest people in the Caucasus, a well-known oilman, and a patron of churches, schools, and refugees.

In his charitable activities, he was not inferior to his companion Alexander Mantashiants. Mikael Aramyants never grudged the prosperity of his beloved city. His contribution to the development of trade, education, and art is invaluable.

Aramyants was the patron of the Nersisyan school. Aside from that, Aramyants’ charity extended to the construction of shelters for homeless refugees. The village of Aramashen is particularly famous, where 80 refugee families found a place to live and engage in cotton cultivation in.

Among other things, Mikael Aramyants financed the construction of several famous buildings in Tiflis. The most renowned among them are the city hospital named after him and the Majestic Hotel.

The Aramyants Hospital has long enjoyed great fame among the inhabitants of old Tiflis. It was a large hospital complex built according to European standards. Unfortunately, only little remains of the original building today.

100 years ago, when the famous Georgian public figure Niko Nikoladze, many doctors, and intellectuals appealed to the city mayor’s office to build a hospital, Mikael Aramyants was the first to contribute funds to it – 100 thousand rubles.

Engineer-architect Zurabyan, who was entrusted with the construction of the buildings of the municipal hospital, traveled to study similar institutions in Moscow, Vienna, and Berlin.

The first were built the infectious disease, surgical, maternity, and pediatric wards. At the opening ceremony of the hospital on February 2, 1910, Alexander Khatisian said: “We hope that the tears of pain and suffering in people after treatment at the hospital will turn into tears of joy and hope.”

Now, this complex of buildings includes the Number One Clinical Hospital, which the residents of the city still call the Aramyants Hospital.

Five years later, after the first visitor crossed the threshold of the hospital, the doors of the next grandiose architectural project of Mikael Aramyants, which brought both the city and its creator the deserved honor and glory, opened. We are talking about the Majestic Hotel.

The hotel was supposed to resemble the outlines of Aramyants’ favorite ship in his flotilla, the Majestic. From the inside, Aramyants intended to make it the best hotel complex not only in the Caucasus but also throughout Europe.

One of the most successful architects of the time, Gabo Ter-Mikelov, was assigned to create a plan for such a hotel. Ter-Mikelov commissioned an architect on a long trip to Europe to study the experience of architectural solutions in the hotel business on the best examples of European hotels in London, Paris, Rome, Moscow, and other major European cities. The result of this trip was a project that was implemented in 1915 on Golovinsky Avenue (today Rustaveli Avenue).

One interesting and unbelievable story is associated with this project, where an employee judicially convinced his employer to spend more money than expected.

It is said that when Ter-Mikelov put the project of the future hotel and all the calculations for its construction on Aramyants’ table, Aramyants was displeased – the amount seemed too large to him, and he asked the architect to change the project to make it a little cheaper. Ter-Mikelov did not agree to make changes to the project.

The essence of the problem was that the main costs accounted for the rounded part of the facade, which was, and today is, the main decoration of the building. Such a design allowed the building to fit perfectly into the corner of Golovinsky Avenue and Baryatinsky Street. Aramyants proposed to make a change precisely in this rounded part.

Apparently, a not very pleasant conversation took place. On one hand, Aramyants was the client, and on the other, the architect was defending his copyright. Ter-Mikelov had strong arguments. The project implied the best hotel, and changing the facade would simplify the hotel and make it look less luxurious than intended. In addition, it was Aramyants who insisted that this should not be an ordinary hotel but the best one in Europe.

It was not possible to come to an agreement, and Ter-Mikelov appealed to the court, defending the right to execute his original project. The court sided with the architect, and Aramyants had no choice but to agree to the proposed project, even though he could simply abandon it. This characterizes Mikael Aramyants – he would never retreat from the intended path.

Be that as it may, the Majestic Hotel was awarded the Grand Prix and the Gold Medal in Paris as the best European hotel built in 1915. The hotel boasted the best amenities available in those days. The interior of the hotel was striking with luxury, and its guests were provided with services designed for even the most demanding customers.

With the establishment of Soviet power in Armenia, Mikael Aramyants was deprived of his entire fortune and thrown into the basement of the house he had built, where he would die in hunger and poverty. However, the name of the great benefactor has remained in history because he won immortality by his good deeds.

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