Newspaper article MinnPost.com

State Fair Rival: The Minneapolis Industrial Exposition

Newspaper article MinnPost.com

State Fair Rival: The Minneapolis Industrial Exposition

Article excerpt

Built in less than a year, the Industrial Exposition Building in Minneapolis housed the city's first Industrial Exposition in 1886 and the Republican National Convention of 1892. It dominated the Mississippi riverbank east of St. Anthony Falls for decades.

The idea for an exposition in Minneapolis arose in August 1885, when it became known that St. Paul had secured the permanent home of the Minnesota State Fair. Prominent citizens of Minneapolis such as Minneapolis Tribune owner Alden Blethen felt slighted, and an open meeting was called to gauge public support for an annual Minneapolis industrial fair, or exposition, to rival St. Paul's agricultural one.

The public liked the idea. Supporters raised funds throughout the fall of 1885 and reached their goal of $250,000 on December 15. The Industrial Exposition Association was incorporated in January 1886 and the site of the Winslow Hotel was chosen for the new, permanent Industrial Exposition Building. The Winslow, one of the earliest hotels in the region, was torn down to make way for the new structure.

Many architects, including Leroy Sunderland Buffington, submitted designs for the building, but the firm of Isaac Hodgson and Son was chosen. The cornerstone of the Industrial Exposition Building was laid with fanfare on May 29, 1886, during a public ceremony attended by more than five thousand people.

The first exposition in the building was scheduled for August 1886. Some doubted the structure would be ready in time, but workers labored through the summer and the building was done on schedule. The main section of the building was just three stories high, but the tower at the building's northwest corner, which featured a public observation deck, rose 240 feet into the air, making the Industrial Exposition Building the tallest structure in Minneapolis at the time.

On August 23, 1886, there was a grand celebration for the opening of the new building and its first exposition. Local dignitaries such as Senator Cushman K. Davis and Archbishop John Ireland spoke at the dedication. US President Grover Cleveland and his wife Frances could not attend. …

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