Avery’s Architectural Novelties

St. Louis in a Nutshell > St. Louis in a Nutshell

St. Louis Exposition in a Nutshell provides an architectural synopsis of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904, housed within a walnut shell. Produced by the Nutshell Novelty Company of Chicago, this commemorative souvenir of the world's fair is surprisingly informative: it includes forty-four photographic views of the buildings erected on the 1,200-acre fairground site. The views are printed on a strip of paper that is folded accordion-style into the shell.




Most of the buildings at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition were sprawling neoclassical structures, exemplifed by the United States Government Building shown in this photograph. The caption gives the building's dimensions and construction cost, as well as the architect's name. In addition to views of the pavilions dedicated to various industries, such as the Palace of Agriculture and the Palace of Transportation, the nutshell also contains views of the pavilions sponsored by individual states. The Virigina pavilion, for example, was a replica of Monticello.


Designed as temporary structures made of wood and plaster, few of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition buildings exist today. St. Louis Exposition in a Nutshell is a piece of ephemera that managed to outlast the architecture it commemorates.

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