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Pan-American Exposition of 1901

The Acetylene Building1

WILLIAM WELLES BOSWORTH

The Acetylene Building, situated on the Mall at the west of the Machinery Building and across the Canal, was built by the Exposition Company for the exhibits of the acetylene industry. Just opposite from the Bazaar Building, it shows an interesting contrast in architectural style. The main structural elements are equally simple and frank; ample openings for light give it the museum or exhibit-building character, while the seriousness of the nature of its exhibits is expressed by the reserve with which the ornament is applied in well-defined architectural limits, and the particular nature of the exhibits is made evident to the careful observer in the symbolism of the ornaments themselves. The evolution of lighting methods is worked out in the ornaments around the windows, from the fire-brand below up through the candle and classic lamp to the acetylene burner at the top, while above the cornice are groups of children holding acetylene torches which light the globe by M. Loester.1

The Acetylene Building. Photographer: Undetermined. Source: Cosmopolitan, v. 31, no. 5 (September 1901) p. 472.

To exhibit and promote the benefits of commercial and domestic use of acetylene gas over traditional fuels, a stand-alone building was constructed opposite the Bazaar Building, just west of the Electricity and Machinery Buildings. The Acelylene Building held exhibits by the Union Carbide company, which distributed the pamplet "The Story of Acetylene."


References

1. Text quoted directly from the Art Hand-Book, Official Handbook of Architecture and Sculpture and Art Catalogue to the Pan-American Exposition. Ed. David Gray. Buffalo, N.Y.: David Gray, 1901. Sources of the images are noted with each.