The Smolny ensemble includes a number of structures put up at different times. This territory on the Neva bank, opposite the Nienschanz Fortress put up by the Swedes in the 17th century, was allotted for the tar-yard (Smolianoi dvor); tar was stored and smelted there for the needs of the Admiralty.
The name of Smolny (tar) was henceforth used for the territory, though the tar-works ceased to exist in the first half of the 18th century.
In the mid-18th century a construction of the Smolny ensemble was started on the site. The oldest are the buildings of the Voskresensky (Resurrection) Novodevichiy Convent, or the Smolny Convent, as it was known among the citizens. The second to be built was the Alexandrovsky Boarding School for Girls for educating girls from middle-class families. To the south of the Smolny Convent the Smolny Boarding School for Young Ladies of Noble Birth was erected in 1806 - 8; it was designed in Russian Empire style by D.Quarenghi.
In 1917 the Smolny Broading School became the revolutionary headquarters. It was here that Lenin resided during the upheaval.