Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition

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Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition
Tennessee Centennial Exposition 1897 (LOC ppmsca.03354).jpg
Chromolithograph of bird's-eye view of the expo grounds
BIE-classUnrecognized exposition
NameTennessee Centennial and International Exposition
BuildingMore than 100 buildings
Area200 acres
CountryUnited States
Venuenow Centennial Park
OpeningMay 1, 1897
ClosureOctober 31, 1897
The Nashville and Memphis pavilions at night, seen over Watauga Lake, with the Commerce Building at rear.

The Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition was an exposition held in Nashville from May 1 – October 31, 1897 in what is now Centennial Park. A year late, it celebrated the 100th anniversary of Tennessee's entry into the union in 1796.[1] President William McKinley officially opened the event from the White House, where he pressed a button that started the machinery building at the fair; he would visit in person a month later.


The site covered about 200 acres, and a characteristic feature of the landscape plan was the sward planted with the famous blue grass of the region. The buildings, of which there were over a hundred, included those devoted to agriculture, commerce, education, fine arts, history, machinery, minerals and forestry, and transportation, as well as those in which the special exhibits pertaining to children, African Americans, the United States Government, and women were shown. The total attendance was 1,786,714, of which the total paid attendance was 1,166,692. The total receipts were $1,101,285 (equivalent to $30 million in 2019[2]), and the disbursements $1,101,246 (equivalent to $30 million in 2019[2]).[3]

Later Developments[edit]

The original Parthenon replica built for the exhibition was made of temporary materials and quickly began to deteriorate. Due to popular sentiment, the building was rebuilt with permanent construction. This version still stands and serves as an art museum housing Alan LeQuire's 1990 re-creation of the Athena Parthenos statue.

The 1982 World's Fair would later be held in Knoxville, Tennessee.


  1. ^ Tennessee Centennial Exposition
  2. ^ a b Thomas, Ryland; Williamson, Samuel H. (2020). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved September 22, 2020. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
  3. ^ This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Tennessee Centennial Exposition" . New International Encyclopedia. 1905.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Cardon, Nathan. "The South's 'New Negroes' and African American Visions of Progress at the Atlanta and Nashville International Expositions, 1895-1897" Journal of Southern History (2014).
  • Cardon, Nathan. A Dream of the Future: Race, Empire, and Modernity at the Atlanta and Nashville World's Fairs (Oxford University Press, 2018).
  • Justi, Official History of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition (Nashville, 1898).