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Pan-American Exposition of 1901

The "Exposition Formula"

View of the Temple of Music along the Colunnade

Temple of Music as seen Through the Colonnade. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: Pan-American Souvenir by Charles Cutter. Niagara Falls, N.Y.: Charles Cutter, 1901. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant

From an architectural perspective, the Pan-American Exposition was an example of the very successful utilization of the "Exposition Formula," which grew from the tone set by the previous world's fairs in Philadelphia (1876) and Chicago (1893). Joann Thompson describes some of the common elements of this formula below2 (applications of these elements to the Pan-American Exposition follow in parentheses):

  • Evocations of an earlier time. (Spanish Mission and Renaissance architectural styles.)
  • Several buildings of a common theme or style grouped around a centralized focal point in a landscaped setting. (The Electric Tower and buildings on the Court of Fountains.)
  • The exposition as a self-contained city exhibiting the wealth and diversity of the contemporary world.
    (Thousands of exhibits in an economically thriving region of the country.)
  • The exposition itself serving as an exhibit. (Illumination, impressive architecture and novel use of color.)
  • A very prominent building as a focal point. (The Electric Tower.)
  • The "secret pleasures" of an Exposition Midway

In applying this formula to the Buffalo Exposition, Thompson wrote, "The prototype [exposition] consist[ed] of palatial structures situated in a park, the whole of which was to commemorate a particular event or ideal." The Pan-American Exposition exemplified this formula with "more big buildings and an impressive park setting to celebrate the supremacy of the United States in the Western Hemisphere."3

The Board of Architects

The Executive Committee of the Exposition Board of Directors was chaired by John N. Scatcherd, who also served as the chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee. Another important figure in the development of the grounds was Newcomb Carleton, an engineer who served at the Director of Works. Scatcherd and the Executive Committee chose those men who would comprise the Exposition's Board of Architects.

John N. Scatcherd

John N. Scatcherd. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: The Pan-American Herald, v. 1, no. 5 (October, 1899) p. 49.

Newcomb Carleton

Newcomb Carleton. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: The Pan-American Herald, v. 1, no. 5 (October, 1899) p. 48.

John M. Carrère

John M. Carrère. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: The Pan-American Herald, v. 1, no. 2 (August 15, 1899) cover page.

John M. Carrère was selected as the Chairman of the committee with William Welles Bosworth as the Assistant to the Chair. Both were of Carrère and Hastings in New York and would assume responsibility for the block plan of the Exposition and the treatment of all grounds and features not assumed by the other members of the board. (John Carrère would be the architect to design Buffalo's 1907 monument to U. S. President William McKinley, who was assassinated at the Pan-American Exposition. The McKinley Monument is located in Niagara Square in downtown Buffalo.)

Robert Swain Peabody (1845-1917), from the Boston firm Peabody and Stearns, designed the Horticultural Group, the Forestry Building and the Graphic Arts Building.

An influential architect and writer, Peabody graduated from Harvard in 1866 and later attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He returned to Massachusetts, in 1870, and formed a partnership with John Stoddard Stearns (1843-1917). The practice of Peabody & Stearns attracted a creative team of skilled architects. Peabody tended to produce the original sketches and delegate design responsibilities to the younger architects, while Stearns supervised construction.

George Cary

George Cary. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: Men of Buffalo; a Collection of Portraits of Men Who Deserve to Rank as Typical Representatives of the Best Citizenship, Foremost Activities and Highest Aspirations of the City of Buffalo. Chicago. A. N. Marquis & Co., 1902, p. 411.

George Cary, (1859-1945) of Buffalo. Cary designed the Ethnology Building and the New York State Building. A Buffalo native, Cary received a formal education at Harvard, and after graduating in 1883, studied architecture at Columbia University, with four additional years at the Ecole Des Beaux Arts in Paris.

Following his return to this country in 1891, Cary opened an office in Buffalo, and remained in this professional practice throughout his long and successful career. Among the many public and private buildings he designed, were:

  • The General Hospital
  • Dental College and several other buildings at the University of Buffalo
  • State Hospital for Malignant Disease
  • The Entrance gate to the Forest Lawn Cemetery at 1411 Delaware Avenue.

An early member and one-time president of the Buffalo Chapter, Cary was made a Fellow of the Institute in 1892, and from 1908 to 1910 served as a member of the national Board of Directors of the Fine Arts Academy and the Albright Art Gallery.4

Edward B. Green

Edward B. Green. Photographer: Hall (Buffalo, N.Y.) Source: The Pan-American Herald, v. 1, no. 2 (August 15, 1899), p. 4.

Edward B. Green, of Green & Wicks, Buffalo, N.Y., designed the Electricity Building and the Machinery and Transportation Building. Green was also the architect of the Albright Art Gallery. Although plans called for this building to be constructed as one of two permanent structures of the Exposition, it would not be completed until 1905.

E.B. Green was born in Utica, NY in 1855 and graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor of architecture degree in 1878.

After three years in an architectural office, he joined with Sydney Wicks, an MIT graduate, in opening an architectural practice in Auburn, NY. The firm of Green and Wicks moved to Buffalo in 1881. Wicks served as a park commissioner in Buffalo for three years and helped to promote development of the Parkside community.5

Today, more than 160 of their Buffalo buildings still stand. Some of the joint projects of Green & Wicks include:

  • Dun Building, Buffalo's first highrise building (110 Pearl Street)
  • Buffalo Savings Bank (545 Main Street)
  • First Presbyterian Church (One Symphony Circle)
August Esenwein

August C. Esenwein. Photographer: Jansen Source: The Pan-American Herald, v. 1, no. 2 (August 15, 1899), p. 2.

August Esenwein (1856-1926), also of Buffalo and a partner in the firm, Esenwein & Johnson, was the architect of the Temple of Music.

Esenwein, was born in Germany and studied architecture in Paris before coming to Buffalo in 1880. He was a highly skilled architect and an excellent salesman who teamed with James Addison Johnson (1865-1939) of Brewerton, New York.

Johnson was born in Brewerton, NY and trained at the prestigious McKim, Mead and White in New York City. He had a flair for outstanding ornament, as evidenced by his design of the spectacular marble floor of the Ellicott Square Building.6

Many of this team's buildings remain today. A few of these include:

  • Calumet Building (46-58 West Chippewa Street)
  • Niagara Mohawk Building, originally the General Electric Tower (535 Washington Street)
  • Col. Francis G. Ward Pumping Station, the largest in the world in its day
  • Lafayette High School (370 Lafayette Avenue)
  • Jewett House (313 Summer Street)
  • Buffalo Museum of Science (1020 Humboldt Parkway)
  • The original Lockwood Library, now Abbott Hall on the University at Buffalo's South Campus

NOTE:Cary, E. B. Green and Esenwein had been involved in the planning of the Exposition since its inception. In fact, in 1897, when the the Exposition was in the planning stages for its original opening in 1899, August Esenwein had served as Director of Architecture. By October he had already prepared the plans for the buildings before "outside" participants were brought in.7

John Galen Howard

John Galen Howard. Photographer: Undetermined. Source: American Monthly Review of Reviews, v. 23, no. 137 (June 1901), p. 683.

George Foster Shepley (1860-1903), of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, Boston, designed the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building as well as the Agriculture Building.

Born in St. Louis and educated at Washington University and MIT. In 1886, he organized the firm of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge. The firm inherited H. H. Richardson's practice in 1886 and was responsible for completing many of his most noteworthy designs.

In 1892, the firm won the competition for the Chicago Public Library which led to the commission for the Art Institute of Chicago in the following year. The design for the library is a good example of the firm's turn from the Richardsonian Romanesque style to the Renaissance Revival associated with the overall theme of the Pan-American Exposition.

John Galen Howard(1864-1931), created the Exposition's focal point, the Electric Tower.

Born in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, and a leader in the American Renaissance movement, Howard was educated at the MIT (1882-1885) and the Ecole Des Beaux-arts (1891-1893). He was an apprentice with H. H. Richardson and then a draftsman with Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge. Later, he helped found the prestigious practice of Howard, Cauldwell & Morgan in New York City, and was asked to join the Exposition's Board of Architects.

Walter Cook

Walter Cook. Photographer: Undetermined. Source: The Pan-American Herald, v. 1, no. 2 (August 15, 1899), p. 2.

After practicing in New York, Howard moved to California in 1901 to execute the Hearst Plan for the University of California, Berkeley, and to establish the School of Architecture there. He became the School's Director and a professor of Advanced Design. While teaching and designing the university's new buildings, he maintained a sizable practice in San Francisco. Some of Howard's houses were designed in the casual Bay Area tradition, but his commercial and public buildings consistently exhibited his desire to create a progressive classical tradition appropriate for America.

Walter Cook, of Babb, Cook & Willard, New York, was responsible for designing the Plaza and entrance to the Midway, the Propylæa, and the Stadium.

James Knox Taylor served the board in an ex-officio capacity. However, as Supervising Architect of the United States, he was responsible for overseeing the design of the United States Government Building.

Karl Bitter

Karl Bitter. Photographer: Undetermined. Source: The Criterion, (May 19, 1901), p. 10.

Charles Yardley Turner

CharlesYardley Turner, Director of Color. Photographer: Undetermined. Source: The Criterion, (May 19, 1901), p. 10.

Added to the board in ex-officio status, were Charles Yardley Turner, the Director of Color, and Karl Bitter, Director of Sculpture. The collaboration between Turner, Bitter and the Board of Architects was evidence of Carrère's vision of one of the greater goals of the Exposition's design:

... At Buffalo, the Board of Architects of the Pan-American Exposition, with a full realization of the importance of the task imposed upon them and with the desire to avoid reminiscences of the Chicago Exposition, decided that the purpose of the setting of this Exposition should be to develop a picturesque ensemble on a formal ground plan, introducing architecture, sculpture, and painting as allied arts.8


  1. Joann M. Thompson. The Art and Architecture of the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York, 1901. Unpublished dissertation. Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey, 1980. p. 20.
  2. Ibid., pp. 19-20.
  3. Ibid., p. 18. Thompson makes and interesting point in comparing the Pan-American Exposition to the world's fairs of Europe, where the United States was often viewed as "culturally less developed" participants. In the case of the Buffalo Exposition, which was a hemispherical rather than a true world's fair, "[exposition] producers may have realized that their United States role vis- à-vis that of the developing Latin and South American countries, was very similar to that of the United States relative to Europe's example, but with America having the upper hand as the culturally superior entity to its less developed neighbors."
  4. Information on George Cary from Chuck LaChiusa, "George Cary 1859-1945," Buffalo as an Architectural Museum.
  5. Information on E.B. Green obtained from "Edward Brodhead Green and Associates," Buffalo as an Architectural Museum.
  6. Information on August Esenwein from Chuck LaChiusa, "Esenwein & Johnson in Buffalo, NY," Buffalo as an Architectural Museum.
  7. Pan-American Herald, v.1, no.5 (October 1899) p. 7 ; Thompson, p. 279 n. 12.
  8. 8. John M. Carrère, "The Architectural Scheme," Art Hand-Book, Official Handbook of Architecture and Sculpture and Art Catalogue to the Pan-American Exposition. Ed. David Gray. Buffalo, NY: David Gray, 1901, p. 13. Click to view the Art Handbook]. See also Kerry S. Grant, The Rainbow City: Celebrating Light, Color and Architecture at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, 1901. Buffalo, N. Y.: Canisius College Press, 2001, p. 11.