Historic Sites of Alton – World’s Fair Building
Our most recent program at the Hayner Genealogy & Local History Library was a talk by Wayne Hensley titled “Historical Sites of Alton.” Wayne’s presentation was excellent, and I am now embarking on a series of blog posts about the buildings he discussed. I also created a temporary display on the buildings, so come check it out at the library if you get a chance!
The first building on Wayne’s list was the World’s Fair Building at 322 East Broadway. This building’s rustic woodwork, hand-carved in Germany’s Black Forest, was part of the Tabard-Booth Inn housing the German exhibit at the St. Louis 1904 World’s Fair. The 1904 World’s Fair, officially titled The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, was located at the present-day grounds of Forest Park and on the campus of Washington University. It was planned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the purchase of the Louisiana Territory and to honor Lewis and Clark’s journey to the west. The Missouri Historical Society has a great website that includes an overview of the fair, photographs, maps, and information on Fair artifacts at the Missouri History Museum. http://www.mohistory.org/Fair/WF/HTML/index_flash.html
The Bluff Line ran two trains each way every day from Alton straight to the World’s Fair gates. According to The Telegraph, railroad agents estimated that 60,000 visits were made by the 20,000 people in the Alton area. The Fair ended on December 1, 1905. W. H. Wiseman of Alton purchased the Tabard-Booth Inn building materials, which he moved to Alton. Mr. Wiseman was a professional photographer and used the World’s Fair Building as his studio. The building later housed the Alton School of Dance.
The World’s Fair Building is currently available for rent, so if you’re in the market for a new office and want to spend your days in a historic building, this could be the place for you.