1893 – Irish Industrial Village, World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition, Chicago

Architect: L.A. McDonnell


Dedication ceremonies for the fair were held on October 21, 1892, but the fairgrounds were not actually opened to the public until May 1, 1893. The fair continued until October 30, 1893. In addition to recognizing the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the New World by Europeans, the fair also served to show the world that Chicago had risen from the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire, which had destroyed much of the city in 1871

“This week we are enabled to reproduce the preliminary sketch for the Industrial Village which it is proposed, to build at the Chicago Exhibition, and in which will be shown a number of the cottage industries of Ireland, and the people at work in the cottages at their several trades.

The general scheme is as follows : — The Village will be entered at the angle, through a gateway, or the gable-end of a Celtic church, for which a good example will be followed, the one shown in the present sketch being only imaginary, it having been prepared in haste for a committee meeting on the 9th of present month.

The cottages are entered from the right- hand side, and the plan is so arranged that one can get from cottage to cottage without going outside. At the top of the Village is placed the shop, where the produce of the workers will be sold ; and behind the shop are offices and committee-rooms. In the corner opposite the entrance it is proposed to reproduce Donegal Castle, reducing the scale by one-quarter ; and the interior of the castle will be utilised for a lecture theatre and museum, lighted from above, the roofs being kept down between the walls, so as not to mar the ruinous, picturesque appearance of the castle from the exterior.

The trades proposed to be represented are — Dyers and Homespun Weavers, Kells Embroidery, Damask Weavers, Dairy and Butter Making, Spriggers and Sewers, Shirt- makers, Ironworkers, Stone and Wood Carving, and Stained Glass work.

The architect is Mr. Laurence A. McDonnell, 28 Lower Pembroke-street, who has been engaged by Lady Aberdeen and the committee, as soon as the plans are agreed to, to proceed to Chicago, and have the work carried out under his personal superintendence.” The Irish Builder, August 15 1892.

“This birdseye view of the Irish Village at Chicago, which was designed by an Irish architect, Mr. Lawrence A. McDonnell, of Dublin, was hung in the Architectural Room at the last Royal Academy Exhibition. The entrance to the village is by a gateway which, we are informed, is an exact reproduction of the Lawrence gateway at Drogheda. The tower in the background is a reproduction of the Keep of Donegal Castle, about half the actual size. The cottages, however, form to our mind the most interesting portion of the group ; they are very picturesque and show a very distinctly marked national character.” The Builder, October 28 1893.