The Palace of Agriculture was the largest building at the St. Louis World's Fair and the most immense ever built for an Exposition. Its area was the size of 10 football fields and its height was as tall as an eight story building.
Former President- Thomas Jefferson believed that for democracy to flourish, American would do so as a nation of gentlemen farmers. Though in obvious contrast to the industrial and technological `message,' that the Fair promoted, the Palace of Agriculture was a testament to Jefferson’s dream of an agrarian society. Since the United States was still mainly an agricultural nation (especially the farm-rich Midwest), the Palace of Agriculture showcased the breadbasket of American production, hence its enormous scope.
Designed by Emmanuel Lewis Masqueray, and built by Caldwell & Drake of Columbus, Indiana;
the Palace of Agriculture housed twenty three acres of exhibits and 10,000 exhibitors. Masquerey’s
design was subdued and used sculpture to enhance and not overload adornments on his facades.
Masquerey stated- “The essence of good design is that a building reflect the purpose for which
it was intended.”
The Palace of Agriculture building measured 546 feet wide and 1,660 feet long. A walk of
three-quarters of a mile was required to simply pass around it. Constructed at a
cost of 529,940 dollars, the palace was sectioned into 148 blocks and contained elaborate exhibits
from fifteen countries and forty-two states. Some exhibits within the Palace were complete with
roofs of their own while others were walls only. On the east side of it's exterior was planted the
largest rose garden in the world, covering 10 acres and displays 1,000,000 blooms.
The Agricultural structure design departs materially from the general ornate style of the other
Exposition Palaces, since it was not near the Grand View.
Within the huge edifice, 170,000 square-feet of space
was used to display dazzling showcases of farm
products: corn, tobacco, wheat, sugar, etc.
There were contests and plenty of produce
and drink to sample and purchase. The palace
also set aside 30,000 square-feet to house the
latest technology in butter, cheese-making and
pasteurization- as well as recent federal regulation
of food processing. A full-sized working dairy
plant provided milk and cheese for bakeries and a meat
plant showcasing the latest humane slaughter
The Missouri exhibit occupied prominent
position at the main entrance of the
palace on the main aisle. Its facade was
artistically made out of grains and
grasses, illustrating a series of thirty
pictures contrasting the old and new
methods in agriculture. its centerpiece was a
forty-five foot tall Missouri Corn Palace, part
of an exhibit by five corn producing
North Dakota displayed the authentic cabin
occupied by a then youthful Theodore
Roosevelt when he worked on a cattle farm
in the 1880's.
Kentucky showcased 4,628 square feet for
its tobacco display. With 232 exhibitors the state also showcased its
production of corn and hemp (Kentucky produced more than 90% of US
hemp at the time).
Louisiana proudly displayed exhibits of rice, cotton and 2000
feet of space, solely devoted to over 100 varieties of sugar
Mississippi showed a special cotton exhibit, including the
35-foot statue of "King Cotton."
Foreign nations exhibited in the palace. The Argentine Republic is reputed to be the greatest producer of wool
in the world, showcased the Merino and Lincoln sheep. On display was magnificent collection of sheepskins. They
also showed off their dairy industry and exhibited natural milk and dairy technology and modernization.
Germany's exhibit included new improvements in sterilization and food safety.
The Palace of Agriculture was so large and with over 10,000 exhibitors, If one took in all the exhibits in the huge building alone, one would walk nine miles.
On its northern edge, The Palace of Agriculture housed another engineering masterpiece- The 112 foot round Floral Clock. Not only was the timepiece the largest clock in the world, during the growing months, the clock would then
have 13,000 flowering plants covering its face. At night, it was illuminated by a thousand lights. Operated by compressed air, the minute hand was 75 feet long and weighed 2,700 pounds and moved five feet every minute.
The hour hand was 50 feet long. A 5,000 pound bell was struck on the hour and half hour. Upon each hour, a mammoth hourglass turned so the sands could run back.
Near the palace, an impressive collection of windmills
(renamed- aerometers), occupied several acres
upon Agricultural Hill. This showcased harnessing
the power of the wind for agricultural uses.
wind-powered irrigation, water pumping, corn
shelling and grinding, to name a few, were shown.
Though exhibitors were encouraged to display
their produce and wares with creative flair, some
needing an edge to attract the massive amount
of fairgoers designed and created unique and
bizarre displays, many which were quite humorous.
In the Palace of Architecture alone, there are 147,250 panes of glass, all
18 x 25 inches.
15,000 feet of space was devoted to corn alone.
A few of the state food `oddity' exhibits:
California exhibit: included 31 pound radishes, 22 foot high corn stalks, a Wine
Temple with over 300 varieties of wine. State seal made out of dried beans.
Aso a replica of a Spanish Mission made from California apricots, peaches and
Kansas exhibit: included a relief of a work operating a cream separator in butter.
Striking eagles, an Indian and eagles made out of corn.
Kentucky exhibit: included an obelisk, 12 feet high, made of blue grass from
the experiment station.
Minnesota exhibit: included a refrigerated nine by twenty foot butter sculpture
of Father Hennepin's discovery of the St. Anthony Falls.
Missouri exhibit: included a refrigerated 2900 pound cream cheese sculpture
of a maid milking a Holstein cow. And a 4700 pound cheese.
New York State exhibit: included an eighteen foot lighthouse made from salt.
Texas exhibit: included a huge state seal made out of various grains and grasses.