One of the first animal   celebrities was the famous horse- Jim Key.
Owned by `Dr.' William Key, the most recognized African American of the day.
Known as “Marvel of the Twentieth Century” and “The Greatest
Crowd Drawer in America,  during 1897-1906,  the horse  was the rage of America.
`Beautiful' Jim Key  (his stage name), was  said to  read, write, spell, add, sort mail, tell time,  use
a cash register, and even cite the Bible.

A  thirteen year old  Arabian hambeltonian horse, Jim Key   was born sickly and once  belonged to P.T. Barnum.

`Dr.' William Key, a self-trained veterinarian,   born a  slave of a tanner- John W. Key,  escaped being  hanged as a double-agent  during the Civil War (helping  both the North and South).

Dr. Key established a leading veterinary practice, a racetrack, hotel, restaurant, and made excellent money selling Keystone
Liniment in his traveling medicine shows. His third wife, Lucinda Davis Key, was one of the first black women doctors licensed to practice in the state of Tennessee.

Healing Jim Key  with his medications,  Dr. Key created a show and  promoted to make  `Beautiful' Jim Key a household name.
Soon after, the wealthy Key made Beautiful Jim Key, a household name.

The Jim Key exhibit at the St. Louis World's Fair was a popular top moneymaker. William Key  performed in front
of then-President Teddy Roosevelt's daughter, Alice.  Jim Key spelled  Alice's name- “Alice Roosevelt Longworth,”
adding the surname of her escort.

The horse could spell out words called out from the audience  using stencils on a display box. Jim could do
mathematics up to 9 digits big.  He could sort mail in the proper slots as well as  distinguish  money  and give correct
change from the cash register.

One of the most talked-about feats was Jim Key removing a silver  dollar from a water-filled glass jar without
spilling or drinking a  drop.

The Beautiful Jim Key exhibit was  one of the first shows to open at the beginning of the Fair.  Instead of hiring a barker,
Key brought in Gordan Bunch, a  famous clown of the time. Jim Key  was valued at 100,000 dollars.

President William McKinley declared that Jim Key was the greatest object lesson of the power of kindness that he had
ever witnessed.

Dr. William Key  opened a lot of avenues for African Americans and promoted implored spectators to support humane groups to be kind to animals.

After the war, Key returned to the plantation that he worked (and  was educated on),  and in an extraordinary act of kindness,  paid off the mortgage on his dead master's fallen property, and supported John W. Key's heirs for the rest of their days. Did Beautiful Jim key perform all these feats  without any  tricks?  No one knows for sure; still, it is a given that Dr. William Key was an extraordinary individual as was his four-legged companion.

The building was called the Golden Horseshoe Building. Carson-Hudson & Co were the architects.
Exhibit Statictics:

Building cost: 12,000 dollars
Price of Admission-  15 cents adults, 10 cents children
Exhibition Profit-  51,654.28 dollars

Dr. William Key
Lee  Gaskins'   AT THE FAIR  The 1904 St. Louis World's   Fair 
                   Web  Design and Art/Illustration   copyrighted  2008
'Free' Ticket for Jim Key Attraction
William Key
Jim Key Building, and (to the left), the Popcorn Palace during late construction.