Relic of 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition found by Chicago Park District

Relic of 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition found by Chicago Park District
Phoenix Panels from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition found by Chicago Park District

A number of colored painted panels from the Hooden Palace of the Japanese Exhibit at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition were recently discovered by the Chicago Park District in a storage area.

Following the Columbian Exposition or “The White City” as it became known, the nation of Japan gifted it’s Hooden Palace Exhibit to the City of Chicago to have and hold forever.   The Japanese exhibit was located on Wooded Island in Jackson Park and was located in what is now the Osaka Garden or “Garden of The Pheonix”

The Ho-den Palace as it stood in 1893 on Wooded Island, Jackson Park

The Ho-den Palace as it stood in 1893 on Wooded Island, Jackson Park

Unfortunately, after a tragic fire (arson) in 1945, most if not all of the Palace was believed to be destroyed except for four hand carved transom panels which were re-discovered in 1973 and are now restored and displayed at the Art Institute in Chicago.

Pheonix Transom Panels at the Art Institute

Pheonix Transom Panels at the Art Institute

That was until earlier this year when the Chicago Park District discovered the painted panels which were originally thought to have dated from the 1933 Fair.

Within the last couple months I was researching the Cahokia Courthouse which stood on Wooded Island and I had met with Julia Bachrach at the Chicago Park District Special Collections.  We had to enter one of the storerooms where pictures were stored.  She knows how much I love the history of the Columbian Exposition and made me swear to secrecy when she allowed me into the archives and I saw the panels!  (I kept my promise Julia!)

The Panels as C.D. Arnold captured in his 1893 photography

The Panels as C.D. Arnold captured in his 1893 photography

What a great find and I can’t wait until the Art Institute has the opportunity to restore the panels and put them back on public display.  They are amazing now and I can’t wait to see them again!

 

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