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Ohio House

Posted on Friday, August 7, 2020

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Ohio House

In 1876, nearly 10 million people visited Philadelphia over the course of 6 months for the Centennial Exposition, the first World’s Fair in the United States. Celebrating a century of American independence, 200 buildings represented 37 countries and 24 new American states added to the original 13. However, only two buildings in Fairmount remain from this cosmopolitan panoply; Memorial Hall (now the Please Touch Museum), and the Ohio House.

Constructed in the Gothic Revival style of dressed sandstone mined from 21 locations in Ohio and framed by fine Ohio timber, the Ohio House was meant to showcase the fine natural resources of Ohio, as well as serve as a clubhouse for attendees who grew weary of the outdoor activities.

Ohio House

Although many visitors enjoyed this display of Ohio’s natural wealth, when the Centennia Exposition ended in November 1876, its fate became unclear. Most of the other buildings meant for the event were intentionally temporary. However, the deconstruction of these buildings was accelerated due to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision. The City of Philadelphia, having made a net profit from the Centennial, was reminded that the $1.5 million ($36.3 million today, adjusted for inflation) that Congress had lent them must be repaid. Thus, in a scramble to reimburse Congress, Fairmount Park sold off many of the buildings that were then quickly disassembled. Ohio House, in the quieter neighborhood of Wynnefield, evaded that rush and was restored for the Bicentennial Exposition a century later in 1976[3]. Today, it is the home of the Centennial Café and ice cream parlor, refreshing Philadelphians today just as it did during the first American World’s Fair.

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