Agricultural Hall

Although the Centennial is remembered today as America's formal entry into the exclusive group of industrialized powers, the United States in 1876 was still an agricultural country. Most Americans lived on farms or in very small towns whose economies reflected the surrounding agricultural life of the nation, and most visitors expected to see the latest in farm machinery and produce. Individual states and exhibitors sent prize-winning farm specimens as if they were attending a county fair. South of the main exhibition grounds was a livestock exhibition area, and the Centennial calendar of events included the Strawberry Display, Trial of Reaping Machines, and the Exhibit of Sheep, Swine, and Goats.

Agricultural Hall, a wooden structure designed in what was termed a Gothic style, covered over nine acres, and was one of the largest buildings at the Centennial. It was host to innumerable displays of produce, agricultural implements, and farm machinery. The only really new devices were the portable steam engines such as the Frick Eclipse. used to power threshing machines, mills, and saws. The steam powered plow was not to become a common sight until late in the 19th Century.

Despite the great size of Agricultural Hall, many exhibits had to be displayed in adjacent structures such as the wagon exhibit, brewery, and the "model butter and cheese factory." In a nearby New England Log House, women in period costume demonstrated cooking and household chores of 1776, one of the few exhibits of America's past. A hastily constructed Pomological Building served as an annex for the exhibition of fruit products, and was exceptional for its functional, almost modern design among the Victorian structures.

Tour Centennial Sites:

Agricultural Hall Engraving
Other views of Agricultural Hall:


2001 Free Library of Philadelphia