The rather exotic pavilion known as the Creaking – or Chinese – Summer-House is located on the picturesque bank of a pond on the boundary between the Catherine Park and the New Garden of the Alexander Park. Attached to its roof is a weathervane in the form of a Chinese banner that creaks loudly as it turns with the wind. This explains the more common name of this pavilion.
The Summer-House was designed by the architect Yury Velten and constructed in 1778–86 at the time of Catherine II under the supervision of Ilya Neyelov.
Placed on a narrow strip of land between two ponds, the pavilion has an elongated shape. Its central domed oval hall is adjoined by two almost square rooms of smaller size. The Creaking Summer-House has two entrances, on the east and west sides, that take the form of rectangular projections embellishe d with open semicircular arches on three sides. A flight of twelve semicircular stone steps, each larger than the one above, descends from the main entrance to the pond.
The treatment of the central volume is particularly elaborate: it is covered by a “Chinese” roof and a turret on metal pillars topped by the weathervane. Above the side rooms of the Summer-House are open terraces with roofs supported by four pillars also topped by weathervanes. The roof has swept-up eaves at the corners in imitation of a device typical of Chinese pagodas and is decorated with brightly painted and gilded figures of writhing dragons that were carved from wood by the craftsman Paul Brüllo. The outside walls of the pavilion were painted in imitation of coloured marble. The doors to the central room were originally decorated with chinoiserie painting and carving. Also borrowed from Chinese architecture is the motif of stone hillocks at the base of the pilasters on the corners of the central section.
By the beginning of the twentieth century the Creaking Summer-House had lost the imitation-marble painting on the walls and many of its decorative details. Restoration carried out in 1954–56 restored the façades to their former fanciful, colourful appearance. At the present time the pavilion is bright and colourful again after recent restoration work.