The great structure erected by California stretched along the western side of Jackson Park, beginning just north of the Woman’s Building.
State buildings at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 were utilized to show off the major resources of each state. Promotion of resources at the Fair was intended to create new channels of trade and display goods to new potential markets. Sometimes, even the structures of the buildings themselves were giant advertisements for a state's major resources. The interior of the Maine Building was constructed of marble from the state's own quarries and included a large marble fountain. The roof of the Pennsylvania Building was covered with Philadelphia tin, and the walls were made from Philadelphia pressed brick. Almost all of the materials used to construct the Delaware Building were transported all the way from their native state to Chicago. Many states designed their buildings in representative architectual styles or modeled them to look like famous buildings from their state. Idaho, for example, rather then erecting an elaborate building like many of the older states, attempted to portray the state's relative newness as an advantage by constructing a more rustic style state building. Click on the pictures below to see close ups of the Idaho State Building and other state buildings. To the right is a page from World’s Columbian Exposition Illustrated that shows pictures of what the state buildings of Mississippi Valley states looked like.
THE CALIFORNIA BUILDING. The great structure (picture at top) erected by California stretched along the western side of Jackson Park, beginning just north of the Woman’s Building, and but a short distance west of the Illinois. Its area was four hundred and thirty-five by one hundred and forty-four feet, with three stories, a Moorish dome one hundred and thirteen feet high, and a roof-garden which was decorated with semi-tropical plants. On the whole, the eye came to admire the sombre and impressive mission-house idea which was represented in this edifice. Its southern porch was classic, but there was no other architectural inconsistency apparent to the layman's eye. Of all the buildings in Jackson Park, "staff" best became the Spanish ones. The stucco of this fabric, and of Rabida, and of the Spanish Building, looked right; and, looking right, there resulted a certain beauty not to be denied. Let but a company of monks in cowls come from these low portals, and the illusion had been complete. Catholic missions at Santa Barbara, San Luis Rey and San Luis Obispo furnished to Mr. P. Brown, the architect of San Francisco, the characteristic features of a native building, and the gorgeous displays and generous distributions of fruit within, contrasted as strongly as possible with the exterior humility of the proud and wealthy State, thus offering to the Eastern visitor the manners and atmosphere of the Golden Gate. This house, like the Illinois and Washington Buildings, was devoted to State exhibits, and was always full of visitors, who looked with interest on many curious, useful, and beautiful things. Cost, $100,000.
credits. "Texas World’s Fair Building," World’s Columbian Exposition Illustrated, (February 1892), 18.
"New York State Building," World’s Columbian Exposition Illustrated, (October 1893), 177.
"Nebraska State Building," World’s Columbian Exposition Illustrated, (September 1893), 151.
"Massachusetts State Building," World’s Columbian Exposition Illustrated, (Oct 1893), 176.
"Idaho State Building" World’s Columbian Exposition Illustrated, (October 1893), 179.
© 2010 Rebecca Edwards, author of New Spirits: Americans in the Gilded Age, 1865-1905 by Rebecca Edwards, Oxford University Press
Part I: Excerpts from the Education Art Series, N. D. Thompson Publishing Company, St. Louis, Missouri, 1893, in a weekly series of 20 portfolios
Part II: Poems and Architecture in the State Buildings, by David Greenstein Vassar '05
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