Stained Glass from 1893 Expo at Navy Pier

One of Chicago's hidden gems is the Smith Stained Glass Museum at Navy Pier.  It is free and has a huge selection of vintage stained glass windows from different eras in Chicago's history including a couple of stained glass windows that adorned buildings at the Columbian Exposition.   One is a window presented to the Woman's Building by the Women of Massachusetts.


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La Rabida Convent in 1893 and The La Rabida Children's Hospital Chicago

During the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, the Spanish government erected a replica of the La Rabida Monastery where Columbus prayed and spent his final day before his voyage to the new world.  During the exposition there were many relics on display having to do with the great explorer including a portion of his actual remains.  After the Expo the building was given over to the South Park Board by the Spanish government who intended it to be used as a "fresh air" sanitarium to be used to help Chicago's less fortunate.  The actual building was used until 1922 and is now still the LaRabida Children's Hospital.


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Ship's Bell From the Expo's "Battleship Illinois"

At Navy Pier Chicago at the east end of the Smith Museum of Stained Glass sits a large metal bell on a square wooden stand with the engraving U.S.S. Illinois 1893.  There is no sign or explanation for the bell and it is usually alone except for the few young children that are sometimes running around it.  It is hard to believe that this bell was the ship's bell for not one but TWO Illinois battleships.  It was first displayed aboard the "Battleship Illinois" during the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.  The battleship for the exposition was actually part of the U.S. Naval Exhibit and the battleship itself was made mostly of wood and brick and made to look as though it was floating.  After the Expo is was placed aboard the real Battleship Illinois. 

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The Statue of Tubal Cain from the Stumm Brothers Exhibit

At the end of the Columbian Exposition many artifacts were auctioned off, sold or donated if they were not crated up and shipped back to their original exhibitor's location.  The large Statue of Tubal Cain, who in Biblical reference was the first master metal worker, was purchased by a Chicago business and is now owned and cared for by the Dreis & Krump Company in Peotone, IL. 


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Columbus Statue from the Cold Storage Building

On July 10, 1893 a fire in the Cold Storage Building of the Columbian Exposition resulted in the loss of 15 lives and the largest single incident loss of life in Chicago Fire Department history to that point in time.  The large painted metal statue of Christopher Columbus which stood in the center of the main east entrance of the building had to be pulled down by firemen in order to make room for equipment.  The Statue was later slated to be a monument at Oakwoods Cemetery in honor of the fallen but it did not meet with Oakwoods Cemetery regulations and was donated to the Fire Department.  The statue is now cared for by the Fire Museum of Greater Chicago. 


Read the full story of the Statue here.


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