THE WOMAN'S BUILDING.
ENCOMPASSED by luxuriant shrubs and beds of fragrant flowers, like a white silhouette against a back ground of old and stately oaks, is seen the WOMAN'S BUILDING, situated in the north-western part of the Park, separated by a generous distance from the HORTICULTURAL BUILDING on the one side, and the ILLINOIS STATE BUILDING on the other, and facing the great Lagoon with the Wooded Island as a vista. A more beautiful site could not have been selected for this daintily designed building.
Amongst a great number of sketches submitted in competition for this building by women from allover the land, it did not take the President of the Board of Lady Managers, MRS. POTTER PALMER, long, with her exquisite taste, to decide upon her choice. She quickly discovered in the sketch submitted by MISS SOPHIA G. HAYDEN that harmony of grouping and gracefulness of .details which indicate the architectural scholar, and to her was awarded the first prize of a thousand dollars, and also the execution of the design. The second and third prizes were given respectively to MISS LOIS L. HOWE, of Boston, and MISS LAURA HAYES, of Chicago, both fully deserving the honors conferred upon them.
MISS HAYDEN, who, as a pupil in the architectural class in the School of Technology, in Boston, graduated with high honors, immediately went to Chicago and personally made the plans and elevations for the building.
Directly in front of the building the Lagoon takes the form of a bay, about 400 feet in width. From the center of this bay a grand landing and staircase leads to a terrace six feet above the water. Crossing this terrace other staircases give access to the ground, four feet above, on which, about 100 feet back, the building is situated. The first terrace is designed in artistic flower beds and low shrubs, forming, together with the creamy-white balustrades rising from the water's edge, and also in front of the second terrace, a charming foreground for the fine edifice. The principal facade has an extreme length of 400 feet, the depth of the building being half this distance. Italian renaissance is the style selected. Its delicacy of lines is well adapted to represent this temple for the fair sex.
The main grouping consists of a center pavilion flanked at each end with corner pavilions connected in the first story by open arcades in the curtains, forming a shady promenade the whole length of the structure. The first story is raised about ten feet from the ground line, and a wide staircase leads to the center pavilion. This pavilion, forming the main triple arched entrance with an open colonnade in the second story, is finished with a low and beautifully proportioned pediment enriched with a highly elaborate bas-relief. The corner pavilions, being like the rest of the building, two stories high, with a total elevation of 60 feet, have each an open colonnade added above the main cornice, Here are located the Hanging Gardens, and also the committee rooms of the Board of Lady Managers.
A lobby 40 feet wide leads into the open rotunda, 70 x 65 feet, reaching through the height of the building and protected by a richly ornamented skylight. This rotunda is surrounded by a two story open arcade, as delicate and chaste in design as the exterior, the whole having a thoroughly Italian court-yard effect, admitting abundance of light to all rooms facing this interior space, On the first floor, on each side of the main entrance and occupying the entire space of curtains, are located, on the left hand, a model hospital, on the right a model kindergarten, each occupying 80 x 60 feet.
The whole floor of the south pavilion is devoted to the retrospective exhibit, the one on the north, to reform work and charity organization, Each of these floors is 80 x 200 feet. The curtain opposite the main front contains the library, bureau of information, records, etc.
In the second story, above the main entrance and curtains, are located ladies' parlors, committee rooms and dressing rooms, all leading to the open balcony in front, and commanding a splendid panorama .of almost the entire ground. The whole second floor of the north pavilion incloses the great Assembly-room and Club-room. The first of these is provided with an elevated stage, where wise words will be heard from pretty lips. The south pavilion contains the model kitchen, refreshment rooms, reception rooms, etc.
The building is constructed of "staff," the same material used for the rest of the buildings, and as it stands with its mellow, decorated walls bathed in the bright sunshine, the women of the country are justly proud of the result.