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Great Central Fair Buildings, Logan Square, Philadelphia, June 1864

Excerpts from "Great Central Fair, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1864" by Linda Wisniewski

In 1861, the Philadelphia branch of the relief organization, the United States Sanitary Commission, began collecting monetary donations in order to supply Union soldiers with basic necessities and medical supplies. Although the Philadelphia branch raised $135,000 in the span of 2 years, the war effort demanded more supplies and support. The success of Sanitary Fairs in Chicago, Cincinnati and Boston encouraged the Philadelphia agency to experiment with its own Fair in June 1864. Local businesses and institutions donated their products and services to support the patriotic cause and exhibited a wide array of valuable goods and curiosities under one roof. Although the Sanitary Commission asked all members of society to support their countrymen, the spectacle was limited to those who could afford the admission prices.

Logan Square was chosen as the site for the Great Central Fair since it was large enough to accommodate the main building, which encompassed approximately 200,000 square feet. William Strickland and Samuel Honeyman Kneass designed the symmetrical structure with Gothic details, the elevation and plan of which are pictured below. Union Avenue, the great central "Gothic" artery, bisected the Fair building from Eighteenth Street to Nineteenth Street. According to Charles J. Stille, who wrote a memorial of the Fair for the Sanitary Commission, "this great hall had all the vastness of the Cathedral's long drawn aisles and its moral impressiveness as a temple dedicated to the sublime work of charity and mercy."    

Note: The Great Central Fair was also known as the Sanitary Fair

Source: "Great Central Fair, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania", 1864 by Linda Wisniewski, Library Company

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Record Details

Title: Great Central Fair Buildings, Logan Square, Philadelphia, June 1864


Detailed description of the fair grounds.

J.Rea SC

F.B. Scholl, Del.

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