During the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, the Agriculture Building was located here. New York architecture firm McKim, Mead, and White designed the sprawling edifice, which was 800 feet long and 500 feet wide, occupying approximately 10 acres in the southeast corner of the fairgrounds. More than 550 American companies and 33 states set up shop on the main floor. As part of the foreign exhibits, a gigantic cheese from Canada was displayed in the eastern portion of the main floor. Made by J.A. Ruddick of Perth, Ontario, the 22,000-pound cheese was six feet tall with a circumference of 28 feet. Its makers used 200,000 pounds of milk. Other nations’ agriculture on display included grains, jams, and beers from Canada; champagne, wine, truffles, chocolates, and pate de fois gras from France; a 50-ton chocolate statue of Christopher Columbus (also from France), a 38-foot high, 30,000-pound chocolate statue from Germany; hams, cheeses, beers, ales and teas from Great Britain; whiskeys from Scotland and Ireland; teas and silks from Japan; coffee and grains from Brazil; and coffee, tobacco and liquor from Mexico.
Agricultural Building Floor Plan
Diana, Goddess of the Hunt
Charles McKim, the architect for the Agriculture Building at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, who was about to begin construction, thought that Diana I would be a perfect piece to top the dome. The exposition officials agreed, and in early 1892 the statue was purchased for $2,500 and sent to Mullins for refurbishing. Once in place, Diana I soon won the admiration of many fairgoers because of her beauty and her prominent position overlooking the Court of Honor in the heart of the exposition.
Diana I on top of the Agriculture Building during the Columbian Exposition
At first it seemed that Diana I was destroyed by a fire that swept the fairgrounds on January 9, 1894 as most of the structure was left in ruins. Fortunately, the Chicago Tribune reported the following day:
The statue of Diana was not damaged as she had been removed about six weeks ago to the Columbian Museum.
This was not the whole story. Executives from Montgomery Ward toured the Agriculture Building and bought the statue and had it stored in the Columbian Museum (Fine Arts Building, now the Museum of Science & Industry) until their Tower Headquarters was built in 1899. It is uncertain whether Diana was sent back to Mullins and was refurbished or if a new statue was made from a new design.