The History of World Expositions

The Saint Louis World Exposition 1904
The German house

Year: 1904
City: St. Louis
Country: USA
Duration: 30th April - 1st December 1904

The german pavilion

Crucial negotiations with Herr Lewald, the Commissioner of the Reich, had secured the German Reich a building site in a central and elevated position at the top of the American state plateau, Germany being the only foreign nation to have been awarded such a location. Here Bruno Schmitz built the German house, whose design, in accordance with the wishes of Kaiser Wilhelm II, was largely based on Schlüter's Charlottenburg palace. On an area of 16,000 square metres Schmitz constructed a two-storey main building surrounded by generous terraces which could be accessed by monumental open stairways. It was connected to an alleyway with a second building that served as a wine restaurant. With its curved baroque forms and the eight large sash windows, this pavilion with its filigree effects became the most popular restaurant on the entire exhibition site.
The main building, which was 46 metres long and 21 metres deep, stood on an area of 930 square metres and had a rectangular ground plan. As in Charlottenburg, the front part was accentuated by a prominent centre building with a two-storey projecting gable with large windows and, rising above it, the large dome.
This is where the circular entrance hall was located with various exhibition and office rooms and a large reading room leading off from it. The presentation rooms were on the top floor which accommodated the centre hall with its eight pillars, a bust of the Kaiser and the oak gallery, which was situated between the room of stripes and the Brandenburg chamber. From there a door led into a large hall where the Kaiser's Gobelin tapestries were on exhibition. They had been woven in 1695 to glorify the heroic military deeds of the great Elector. They depicted the battle of Fehrbellin, the landing on the island of Rügen, the siege of Stralsund and the bombardment of Stettin.
The roof formed a platform surrounded by railings of wrought iron offering a marvellous view over the exhibition site. On top of the large dome was a statue of the weather goddess, at a height of 48 meters. Here hung the bells which had been made by the Bochum association for mining and steel manufacturing and they chimed every day at noon, shortly before sundown and on particularly festive occasions. On 6 October, which had been the celebration day of the German-Americans since 1863, a grandiose ceremony was held on the main terrace with 146,000 visitors to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of the first large colony of German settlers on American soil in 1863. In their patriotic speeches at this celebration Carl Schurz, Emil Preetorius and the German Ambassador emphasised the inseparable bond between Germany and America. The interior decoration of the palace replica met with particular admiration as it was adorned with casts of the stucco work of the original rooms and original furniture, works of art and mobile room decorations had been transported from Berlin to Saint Louis. In line with the overall character of this world exposition, the contribution not only dazzle due to its innovative and modern approach, but also made a statement of identity through historical symbols: "What Friedrich I had anticipated as a brilliant illusion, was given substance of international and historical significance: in St. Louis, the crown of the German Kaiser hovered above the Prussian coat of arms on the tower of the Charlottenburg palace. If their present wearer wanted the artistic forms from the days of his first royal ancestor to decorate this house, this was done with the joyful right that an heir has to his acquired possessions." (Alfred Gotthold Meyer)

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