Book of the Fair, H. H. Bancroft, 1893
The Agricultural building is among the most sightly of the Exposition palaces, its chaste and serious design, its wealth of decorations, and richness and variety ot detail, making it one of the most refined and luxurious homes of industry that welcome this gathering of the nations. Fronting on the main court 800 feet, with a depth of 500, and with its eastern facade almost touching the waters of the lake, this structure occupies, apart from its annexes, a space of some nine and a half acres. Built with a careful regard to its effect on adjacent edifices, it was planned in such fashion as to secure the best disposition of its contents, together with the lighting needed for a comparison of the agricultural products of our own and foreign lands, between many ol which their delicate shades of distinction cannot be readily detected.
After considering their plan, the New York firm of architects by whom was designed this temple of Ceres, decided to erect their main building around a hollow square, divided in the centre by two open naves intersecting at right angles, and on their sides two-storied aisles, with longitudinal passage-ways through the four courts into which the floor is thus divided. Passing between the Corinthian pillars at the principal entrance, more than 60 feet wide, the visitor enters a vestibule profusely adorned with statuary emblematical of agriculture and agricultural pursuits, the vestibule leading into a rotunda, 100 feet in diameter, and surmounted by a glass dome 130 feet in height. At the top of the building and around it is an arcade, and at the corner are pavilions, also with domical treatment. The edifice is fashioned after the style of the classic renaissance; portions of its walls are painted with allegorical figures, and on the outer sides, as well as in the interior is a luxury of pictorial, sculptural, and other artistic ornaments, relieving the stateliness of the design.
While none but the most captious among the pilgrims of the Fair will be disposed to find fault with this structure, in itself a well-nigh perfect work of art, it has been objected, and not without reason, that nearly one half of the space was devoted to aisles and other passage-ways. To the distribution of that space exception has also been taken; but by the artificers and managers these apparent defects are explained through considerations that need not here be mentioned. To Great Britain were allotted more than 13,000 feet, and to France, a greater agricultural country, only 7,000 feet. Australia has 8,600 feet, while to such great agricultural states as Kansas and California, both with a much larger volume and variety of agricultural production, only some 2,000 feet were awarded. Russia has 9,500 feet, and Italy and Spain but 3,000 or 3, 500 feet for each; but in all cases the allotment of space has been regulated rather by the character and extent of the display than by the agricultural output of the territorial divisions here represented.
Adjoining the Agricultural building is a large annex, near one of the stations of the elevated railway, and of which a portion is used as an assembly hall, and as a common meeting ground for persons engaged or interested in agricultural and stock-raising industries. On the ground floor is a bureau of information, where -no attendants whose duty it is to give to visitors such knowledge as they may deMte, not only concerning the hall and its purposes, but as to the main building and its contents, with other portions of the Exposition. Here and on the second lloor are waiting-rooms and apartments suitable for committees and associations, whose secretaries are always at hand.
In none of the homes of the Fair has sculptural and pictorial embellishment been more happily blended with architectural design. Above the gilded dome is poised St Gauden is a gilded statue of Diana, appearing to better advantage as thus transferred to its lofty pedestal from the Madison Square garden in New York. Over the corner pavilions are Martinys figures of the races, in four groups of colossal female forms, supporting mammoth globes. All are identical in pose, and it is said, produced from a single mould, a different head being placed on each of the models. On the pediments of these pavilions are groups by the same artist, representing a shepherdess with her flock, and a shepherd with his dogs, all in his happiest style. Other of his contributions are those which portray, in classic symbolism, the signs of the zodiac and the emblems of abundance, the fluted drapery of the latter con¬ cealing their opulence of form, some holding under their wings the horns of plenty, and others with tablets on which are inscribed the names of products emblematic of the seasons. Still another of his groups is typical of agriculture, the tall impersonation of that industry rising above the branching horns of oxen, yet in perfect symmetry and poise. Over the principal entrance is a statue of Ceres, by the Florentine artist Larkin J. Mead, who parted with his treasure somewhat reluctantly, and only because, as he remarked, it would reveal to our American artists what sculpture really is. Let us hope that his brethren of the craft have laid the lesson to heart.
The decorations in graphic art are by George W. Maynard, of New York. At one side of the main entrance Cybele is seated in her chariot, drawn by lions, and on the opposite side, in a car to which winged dragons are yoked, is King Triptolemus, sent forth by the mother of the gods to instruct all the nations of earth in the science of agriculture. Between them are allegorical figures set in a framework of grain and fruit. At the corner pavilions are figures emblematic of the seasons, and on the friezes above, those of domesticated animals.
In the department of agriculture are included not only the fruits of the soil in the shape of food and forage plants, but all the articles manufactured from those products, whether in solid or liquid form. Thus one group we find bread and biscuits, starches and pastes; in another, sugars and syrups; in a third, malt and alcoholic liquors. wines being represented in the Horticultural Division, Here also are meats, smoked, salted, canned, or as extracts, and m a separate structure, the products of the dairy. Agricultural machinery, implements, and processes are fully represented, with fertilizing substances, both animal and mineral. There are farm buildings, models, methods, plans, and statistics, and classed in this division, though housed elsewhere arc exhibits of bores try, and all that the forest supplies.
To the residents of the several states of which Chicago is the main centre of distribution, and supply, the Exposition has no more attractive features than its Agricultural and Live-stock departments, the latter presently to be described. Of the entire grain receipts of that city, valued for 1892 at about $150,000,000, from eighty to ninety per cent is shipped to domestic and foreign markets, where also is forwarded either on hoof or as meats and lard, as hides and wool, the bulk of its live-stock consignments, representing for the same year a valuation of more than $ 250,000,000. The region tributary to Chicago, including, as it does, a wide section of the western and middle states, is largely devoted to agriculture and stock raising, furnishing indeed a very considerable proportion of the food supply of the world.
Agriculture Building Dome.