How Feminine Leaders Distinguished Themselves
In Two Great Expositions - The Pan-American Here
And The One in St. Louis

Kate Burr

Buffalo Courier Express
November 17, 1965

In July, 1900, when it was decided that Buffalo was to be the seat of the great Pan-American Exposition, twenty-five Buffalo women were appointed a Board of Women Managers to swing women's interests into line and care for the ceremonials, comfort and entertainment indigenous to a great fair.

These women were all executives in some branch of social, charitable or business capacity.

They worked as a unit with tremendous results. Marian deForest did yeoman service as secretary to this board, getting in touch with every women's club in the United States and through the honorary members of the board (two to each State and Territory) with the women of neighboring countries.

Miss deForest was a young newspaper woman whose capacity for organization was marked even then.

The old Country Club House (later the Park Club) at the northern end of Delaware Park, was utilized for a woman's building. The exquisite taste of Mrs. Charles Cary developed its furnishings.

One room, removed from the others, had dark green wall paper, sprayed with lilies of the valley. The balcony opening from its windows was lovely with flowers and vines and peace personified reigned there.

"Let's call this the Fainting Room," exclaimed Marian deForest when she saw it.

The word in jest became reality and all over the country and England and South America spread the fame of the Exposition's Fainting Room. Here, tired women over wearied by sight-seeing, found a have of recuperation.

The furnishings of the Women's building were so aptly chosen and selected with such forethought that their sale at the end of the fair brought return equal to the outgo from members of the board themselves as souvenirs of months of delightful companionship and cohesion of endeavor.

Back to the beginning, we find the Exposition opening on the twenty-first day of May, 1901, in a snow storm.

The women managers gave their first reception - this in honor of Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, wife of the Vice-President of the United States. The ball had before this been started rolling by Mrs. William Hamlin, that most efficient president, who gave a luncheon for the women associated with her at her home in Delaware Avenue - the initial hospitality of the board.

From that time on, Mrs. Hamlin could be found ready for any emergency by day and by night. The women knew their president was a tower of strength.

On that fateful September day when the President of the United States was shot down by an assassin, Mrs. Hamlin's line and Miss deForest's line were the only telephone services open and all the telephone messages of life and death, or retribution of despair went over them through the dread hour while a nation waited in grief and suspense.

Mrs. John Miller Horton, chairman of the Committee on Entertainments and Ceremonies, was kept busy during the entire fifteen months of her life on the board.

Gracious and queenly, beautifully gowned from Paris, Mrs. Horton was one of the outstanding women. Under her administration charming luncheons and receptions were given to the ladies of Puerto Rico, to Governor and Mrs. Benjamin Odell of New York, to the Countess Minto, wife of Canada's Governor-General, to Governor and Mrs. Stickney of Vermont and their party, to Governor and Mrs. Bliss of Michigan, to Governor and Mrs. Yates of Illinois, to Lieutenant General and Mrs. Miles of the United States Army, to the wives of members of the Diplomatic Corps, to the National Daughters of the American Revolution with Mrs. Charles W. Fairbanks as president; to all the important women's organizations of the United States.

On the sixth day of September, the women of the McKinley party were being entertained at the Women's Building when that shot "heard round the world" rang out in the Temple of Music.

A cessation of festivities then, while a dying President lay in the Milburn home awaiting his summons.

The women assembled a small but choice collection of work by women in the Applied Arts section of the Manufacturer's Building. Mrs. Tracy Becker, president of the Board of Managers of the Buffalo Orphan Asylum, was chairmen of Applied Arts and she was ably assisted by Miss Eugenia Hauenstein and others of her committee in developing a notable group of rare and exquisite examples of handicraft which proved to be one of the most attractive exhibits.

A side light on visitors was the call of Theodore Roosevelt so soon to be the official head of this Republic.

He went through the Women's Building quickly, not omitting the Fainting Room. Nobody thought he had seen anything and he had absorbed everything. He came down to Miss deForest's desk and peppered her with questions in that quick, decisive way of his. "Well, it's great," he said on leaving, "and practical."

Ed. Note: the above article was excerpted because it contained photographic labels, etc.


Back to "Doing the Pan" Home