New Hampshire Tidbits: Exhibiting at Chicago World’s Fair and Columbian Exposition of 1893

Partial Map of Chicago World’s Fair. The New Hampshire Building was located at #25 on the north east section of this map, facing Lake Michigan.  Rand McNally. 1893.

You have probably heard of, or know about, the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. I have too, but had no idea that New Hampshire was included in more than one exhibit there. New Hampshire Commissioners were appointed to plan for the Columbian Exposition that included: Walter Aiken, D., Franklin; Charles D. McDuffie, R., Manchester; George Van Dyke, Lancaster; and Frank E. Kaley, Milford.

Women had not yet won the vote, but they managed to convince the organizers of the Chicago World’s Fair to include women from each state as ‘managers.’ The two ‘Lady Managers’ from New Hampshire were: Mrs. Mira B.F. Ladd (Lancaster) and Mrs. Daniel Hall (Dover), who would have been appointed by the male commissioners, with one being Democrat and one Republican. They had 2 alternate appointees: Mrs. Frank H. Daniel (Franklin Falls) and Miss Ellen J. Cole (Lake Village).

Photos from “members of the Board of Lady Managers, 1894. Mrs. Sophia (Dodge) Hall is #4 (2nd row far left) and Mrs. Mira B. (Fletcher) Ladd is #3, 1st row, far right. Digital Library, University of Pennsylvania.

Both women contributed meal recipes for books that were published during this time.  Mrs. Ladd provided menu items such as tomato salad and creamed oysters, while Mrs. Sophia Hall offered one for angel cake.

Mira B. F. Ladd was Mira Barnes Fletcher, daughter of Hiram Adams & Persis (Everett) Fletcher, born Feb 1835 in Colebrook NH, and died 23 October 1914 in Lancaster New Hampshire.  She married 5 June 1860 in Lancaster NH to William Spencer Ladd.

Mrs. Daniel Hall was born Sophia Dodge, daughter of Jonathan Thorne & Sarah (Hanson) Dodge, and wife of Col. Daniel Hall.  She was born 16 Aug 1842 in Rochester NH, and died 1 Dec 1918 in Dover NH. She is buried in Pine Hill Cemetery, Dover NH.

George B. Howe, of Boston and C. Howard Walker of Delaware were chosen as the architect designers for the New Hampshire Building, the primary physical presence.   George Bridges Howe had been born December 1867 in Chichester NH, son of John R. & Mehitable (Haines) Howe.  He studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before setting up an architectural and engineering business in Boston, MA.

A New Hampshire souvenir pin from the Chicago World’s Fair – Pinterest, unattributed.

The official opening of New Hampshire’s exhibit at the Chicago World’s Fair, occurred on New Hampshire Day, June 26, 1893, as follows: “The dedication of the pretty Swiss chalet erected by New Hampshire as her State home at the Fair was the principal feature of this day, the ceremony of opening consisting of music and speaking, followed by a reception. At two o’clock in the afternoon Governor John B. Smith and staff, with officers and delegates from the Legislature, escorted by the Iowa State band and a company of the Amoskeag Volunteers, arrived at the State building, where they were received by the New Hampshire Board of World’s Fair Managers. In the absence of the president, Charles H. Amsden, his address of welcome was read by the vice-president, George F. Page, who, in turning over the building to the Governor, handed him a golden key tied with white and yellow ribbons. This was followed by a response from the Governor, after which Judge Robert M. Wallace spoke for the judiciary of the State, Lieutenant-Governor John McLane for the Senate, Speaker Robert N. Chamberlin for the House of Representations, and John W. Ela of Chicago for the sons and daughters of New Hampshire in the West. The most significant musical event was the singing of “The Old Granite State,” by John W. Hutchinson, seventy-five years of age, a native of New Hampshire. Several hundred citizens of the State were present, most conspicuous whom were the Amoskeag Volunteers, eleven hundred strong, from Manchester, organized in 1854, whose old-time uniforms gave a picturesque touch to the scene.” [from A history of the World’s Columbian exposition held in Chicago in 1893, by authority of the Board of directors, ed. by Rossiter Johnson. 1897-1898]

New Hampshire State Building at 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. D.H. Hurd 1893.

I was able to find two separate descriptions of the New Hampshire Building.  This first one is a basic description of the architecture and composition, while the second (later) describes the inside.  “The mountains of New Hampshire probably suggested the Swiss cottage for a World’s Fair club-house. The building, like the State, is comparatively small–53 by 84 feet. The pitched, shingled roof is broken by five gables. The exterior is weather-boarded in stained Georgia pine, above a line seven feet from the ground. This first seven-foot course is in New Hampshire granite. Each of the two stories is surrounded on all side by a wide piazza. The rooms on the second floor open to the piazza through hinged

Photo- souvenir of Columbian EXPO at NHHS
Folding Fan, Columbian EXPO Souvenir 1893; Bequest of Helen Dadmun Doble, New Hampshire Historical Society.

windows opening to the floor. The entrance is on the east, facing the drive on Lake Michigan. On the first floor is a reception hall, 22 by 36 feet. It has two unique fireplaces, in pressed granite brick. To the rear of the hall is a wing of the main building, two stories high, the second story being a wide balcony or gallery to the main floor. The roof is a glass skylight. A State exhibit, a picture collection, and a large State map will be shown here. Besides the reception hall on the first floor, there are parlors for men and women. These rooms are ceiled, while the reception hall opens to the roof, and is covered with a skylight. The second floor has a reception room and six board and committee rooms. Cost, $8,000.”  [from The World’s Fair: being a pictorial History of the Columbian Exposition, by William E. Cameron, 1893, page 512].


Chase and Sanborn was the official coffee supplier for the Chicago World Fair and produced souvenirs that included circular trading cards of the World Fair Buildings. New Hampshire is shown on this one.

Shepp’s World’s Fair Photographed, by James W. Shepp, c1893 offers a fascinating detail of what a visitor to the building might have experienced through the eyes of the author.
NEW HAMPSHIRE BUILDING. “New Hampshire gives us a genuine surprise. We did not expect much from this little State, but those who enter her building will have a rich treat. It is a colonial cottage, bright with flowers. In the Main Hall or Reception Room, there are many pictures of governors and noted men. Old John Stark, the hero of the Battle of Bennington, looks as grimly from the canvas as when he cheered his soldiers on against the British, by telling them that he “would win or leave Molly Stark a widow.” Isaac Hill, who has the proud distinction of being the first man who ever read a speech in Congress, looks from another frame, and stern old Levi Woodbury faces him. To the left is a ladies’ parlor, very neat and cheerful looking. Passing through a low door we find ourselves in a long room, dimly lighted, a veritable rustic retreat. The walls are covered with grasses, the pillars are all of wood with the bark still on, and yet smelling of the forest. In the centre there is a beautiful panorama of the Livermore Falls, on the Pemmigewasset River, surrounded on three sides by a rustic wall, into which are set scenes of noted places of the State. The only light in the room is that which illuminates the panorama, and, as all these pictures set into the walls are on glass, they form charming transparencies. One of these pictures has a pathetic interest to all who have been in the White Mountains: it represents the monument erected to Lizzie Bourne, a daughter of Judge Bourne of Kennebunk, Maine, who lost her life in a snow-storm within a few years of the Mountain House, September 14, 1855; she was only twenty years of age. Ascending the stairs, we enter a wonderful grotto made to represent a large cavern, the floor except a narrow passage-way around the walls, is taken up with a huge profile map of New Hampshire. Set into the walls of the room, numerous colored photographs on glass not only let in a chastened light, but furnish a continuous panorama of the splendid mountain scenery of the “Granite State.” The walls are thickly matted with sweet-smelling grasses and make a beautiful framework for the pictures. Yankee ingenuity has certainly triumphed here; these two rooms are not only models of artistic taste, but also of well-judged economy. The Exposition presented few objects of greater interest.”

Another view of the New Hampshire State Building at the Chicago World Fair.

August 16, 1893 was Hayti (sic) Day and Dartmouth College Day, and the events were described as follows: “The occasion was purely a social affair, Commissioners Frederick Douglass and Charles A. Preston arranging only for an informal reception. Among the interesting articles shown in the building were the sword of Toussaint L’Ouverture and the anchor of Columbus’ flagship, which was wrecked near Cape Haytien, December 14, 1493.  The alumni of Dartmouth College observed this day by a reunion at the New Hampshire building. Several hundred former students registered during the morning, the oldest date being that of 1846, and at 3 PM a meeting was held and addresses were made by members of the Alumni Association. A reception followed, in which the honors were done by William H. Gardiner, Secretary of the Chicago branch of the association.” [p 427, A history of the World’s Columbian exposition held in Chicago in 1893;by authority of the Board of directors, ed. by Rossiter Johnson.

Photograph of Chester Daniel French taken between 1900-1910, from Metropolitan Museum of Art – Gallery Images.

1897-1898 of etc.]

In addition to the above mentioned buildings and events, New Hampshire also participated with an exhibit in the Agricultural Building at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The exhibit featured the plow made and used by Daniel Webster. [SEE PHOTOGRAPH].  [Editor’s note: This plough was the very same one that appeared in New Hampshire’s exhibit at The Great Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia PA in 1876].

New Hampshire’s famed sculptor, Daniel Chester French was also involved in the Chicago World’s Fair, being the creator of a 65-foot tall statue, “The Republic” that was located in the Court of Honor.


Official Souvenir Programme: dedicatory ceremonies World’s Columbian Exposition – Hathitrust

Library of Congress: Birds Eye View of the World’s Columbian Exhibition

Chicago World Fair Booklet, Internet Archive

The Concord Insider, 2010:  Was the New Hampshire Building rebuilt in Concord NH?


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4 Responses to New Hampshire Tidbits: Exhibiting at Chicago World’s Fair and Columbian Exposition of 1893

  1. Sally Benson says:

    You would be interested in the story around women and the Fair, esp effort and accomplishment of the Women’s Building. A Bates woman did an extensive study – will try to remember name of her book. Googke lists another book too.

    • Janice Brown says:

      During my research I did run across quite a bit about the Women’s Building. Since my story was about New Hampshire, I tried to keep my focus on my primary interest — New Hampshire history. If you notice I did include the women from this state who were involved! Thank you for mentioning it however. It was a big deal at the time, women did not have the right to vote, and they took advantage of their World’s Fair platform.

  2. Rosalind Ekman Ladd says:

    I have just discovered your blog and read with great interest your article on the NH contributions to the Chicago World’s Fair. I have been doing research on Mira Ladd and her role as Lady Manager.
    I have not had time to read your piece carefully, but I can note one correction: on the photos, you have the 2 women mixed up: Mira’s picture is on top right corner.
    I would love to know more about the blog and its contributors.
    – Rosalind Ekman Ladd

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