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State Buildings

Twenty-four buildings were constructed by various states along State Avenue in the northwest corner of the exhibition grounds and elsewhere. Most of these were not designed as exhibition buildings, but were modest wooden structures that served as headquarters of the individual state Centennial commissioners and as reception rooms where visitors could sign a guest book.

One clear stipulation for state exhibitions was that no reference to the recent Civil War be made that could be construed as political or offensive. Still, most southern states declined to participate. Some were still recovering financially from the War. Mississippi and Arkansas were notable exceptions. Both Virginia and Tennessee were represented by private citizens, Virginia by a guesthouse behind the Women’s Pavilion, and Tennessee by a tent between the Iowa and Maryland buildings. States that mounted exhibits tended to display agricultural produce and other homegrown items. Kansas produced a 20-foot replica of the national capital in corn, topped by a statue of Pomona, the fruit goddess. Iowa displayed 35 giant glass cylinders, each over six feet tall, containing soil samples from its 35 counties

Each state had its designated state day at the Centennial, which included parades along State Avenue, music, and speeches. These days recorded the highest attendance, foremost being Pennsylvania Day, September 28, with 274,919 visitors. Both presidential contenders Samuel J. Tilden of New York and Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio used their state days to campaign. Delaware-Maryland-Virginia Day featured a jousting match with knights in medieval costume.


Other views of State Buildings:

Philadelphia newspapers noted with dread the possibility that the state buildings would be donated to the city after the Centennial. Only the Ohio House, constructed of stone quarried in each county, remains to this day on its original site.

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2001 Free Library of Philadelphia