Thursday, September 1

Hail Italia

Sam, Ruth, Josefina Ester and I check out the Italian Pavilion.

I was fascinated when Josefina Ester told us she and her family were participating in the Italian Pavilion at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, so I headed to the library.

During the Fair, visitors walked up the wide stairs through the Ionic columns into a pavilion designed to resemble a Roman emperor's villa. Concerts featuring Italian music entertained Italian visitors and special guests in the pavilion and its lovely surrounding gardens. Visitors walked through the pavilion's reception room to view reproductions of statues from the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii along with modern works of art.

I found this in a book published in 1913:

Italian Pavilion and Italian Day:

The Italian pavilion was opened June 6, 1904 with an official reception. The guests began to arrive at 4 p.m., and for the next two hours the building was thronged with guests representing the Italian and other foreign governments, the exposition management, the National Commission, Board of Lady Managers, United States government board, Philippine commission, the many state commissions, the various departments of the Exposition and St. Louis society.

A canopy covered the walk from the Ionic columns fronting the pavilion to the main entrance, where the guests were announced by a member of the Italian commission.

At the opening of the reception, which lasted from 4 to 6 o'clock, the Italian colors were unfurled from two gilded flagstaffs in front of the building. The Colorado Italian orchestra played inside the pavilion and Professor Conterno's Italian band outside in the garden. As the official representatives of the different foreign governments arrived they were greeted with the national airs of their respective countries. Italian music was a favorite with the visitors, and next in popularity came Hail Columbia, the Star Spangled Banner and other American airs.

Among the many distinguished visitors was Count Henry Prevost de Brebiere. The ladies were presented, each, with a bouquet of flowers and a box of Italian bonbons tied with red, green and white ribbon, the colors of Italy.

Oct. 12, 1904, the 412th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, was Italian Day at the World's Fair. The Italian pavilion was decorated outside with the national colors of Italy and the United States, and on the walls inside hung banners picturing the history of the Roman Empire from the earliest days to the discovery of America.

One of the main features of the celebration was a parade through the exposition grounds to the Italian pavilion and back to St. Louis Plaza where Baron des Planches, Italian ambassador at Washington, presented a very handsome Italian flag which had been carried in the procession by a guard of honor composed of 12 Italian marines, to Mayor Wells for the city of St. Louis. The Mayor gracefully accepted the flag in the name of the city and extended a cordial greeting to Ambassador and Mrs. des Planches and all of the visiting Italians. Signor M. Salvini, the Italian sculptor who had been selected to act as "President of the Day," delivered an address in which he expressed the hope that the time would come when the 12th of October would be celebrated regularly in the United States as a public holiday. After addresses by the President of the Exposition and Commissioner-General Giovanni Branchi, the latter read the following cablegram from Rome, which had just been received by Signor Angelo Pavia, president of the royal commission, from Signor Rava, the Italian minister of commerce.

Present to the great friendly nation, whose name reminds us of the greatest achievement of our country, the best wishes of the Italian government today when Italy celebrates its participation in the great International Exposition at St. Louis.

A banquet in the afternoon at the International Cafe on the Pike was attended by 1,000 guests, most of them Italians, Signor Pavia acting as toastmaster. An illustrated lecture by Professor Brunialti, of Rome, on "Italian Monuments," filled Festival Hall between 6 and 7 p. m. In the evening the celebration of Italian Day was fittingly closed with a water carnival on the lagoons, the distinguished guests being taken through the waterways in Venetian gondolas and launches to the strains of Italian music.

The Universal Exposition of 1904, Volume 1
David Rowland Francis
Saint Louis
Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company

The 1904 St. Louis World's Fair
Daily Calendar

Thursday, Sept. 1, 1904
  • Tennessee Day (Hermitage - President Jackson)
  • Indiana Day
  • Horse show awards 

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