Reconstructing a Fair to Remember

Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

It was all so new and exciting: Electricity! Moving pictures! Refrigerators! Ice cream cones! Photos of the 1904 World’s Fair in Saint Louis, Missouri, reveal a stunning vista of white palaces, lagoons, pavilions and gardens. Then it was gone; the building torn down, the grounds returned to a park.

“It’s very frustrating,” says Saint Louis native Jim Blase ‘81J.D., "because we heard a lot about it but can’t picture it."

The estate-planning attorney and his son, Tommy, who was 8 when the project began and is now 11, have remedied that frustration with “The 1904 World’s Fair Reconstructed,” a set of DVDs that offer a now-and-then re-creation of the fair.

“It’s sort of like a Disney World map,” says Blase. “You use it as a guide and follow along on various paths, starting at the main gate.” Blase uses live shots of the fair locales as they appear today, then fades them into the exact spot 100 years ago as he reads accounts from books about the fair.

The two-volume DVD set highlights 80 exhibits. Blase plans to finish the set by the end of this year with two more volumes. “The 1904 World’s Fair Reconstructed” two-volume set is available by e-mailing Blase at or by calling his office at 314-909-6565. For ND alumni, Blase says he will offer a 33 percent discount. The two-volume DVD set will be $20, including tax and shipping, and the VHS set will be $15. The DVDs also can be purchased on eBay