Totma is one of the oldest cities in the Vologda region, a city of unique, special architecture, recognized by its exquisite ornaments decorating the facades of the Totma churches - cartouches.
Cartouche is an element of the Baroque decor. It looks like a scroll with curls, on which emblems, icons, plots of wall paintings and inscriptions are placed. Unlike the usual - stucco, carved or painted - Totma cartouches are part of the wall masonry.
The style of the Totma baroque is the "Russian style of sea discoveries". Totma is a city of sailors. The museum list of Totma merchants-sailors comprises more than 30 names. In general, 20 expeditions to the Pacific were equipped by the Totma companies during the 1740s-1780s. It is more than the merchants of Vologda and Moscow together. It is the fifth part of all known Russian private expeditions. The result of such expeditions, following the government campaigns of Gvozdev-Fedorov, Bering-Chirikov, was such a phenomenon as Russian America. Sea charts of the XVIII century were traditionally decorated with painted scrolls-cartouches. In the opinion of S.M. Zaitsev, Totma local historian, the Totma Baroque represents a stone chronicle of the Russian "discovery of America", "Russian-American Baroque."
There are about 50 samples of Totma cartouches known. The number of monuments in the Totma style is close to thirty. Two-thirds of them are located within the former Totma district, others - in the Soligalich district of the Kostroma region, Kotlas district of the Arkhangelsk region, in Transbaikalia. There are a lot of evidences that the Totma Baroque is not a particular local school. As it should be, the Russian-American baroque expanded across half of the world.