1904 World's Fair Swedish Pavilion


Designed by Ferdinand Boberg, one of Sweden’s premier architects at the turn of the century, the Swedish Pavilion is the only one of Boberg’s international exposition buildings in existence today. It is the only example of his work in the United States. It is also one of very few international buildings remaining from the St. Louis World’s Fair. When the Swedish government would not authorize the funds, Boberg volunteered his services and the building was built by popular subscription in both Sweden and the United States. C.A. Swensson, president of Bethany College was the chairman of the Swedish-American building committee.

The building followed the design of t he traditional Swedish Manor House or “herrgård” honoring the architectural past of Sweden. The Pavilion was prefabricated at Ekmans Construction Company in Sundbyberg just north of Stockholm, Sweden. It then was dismantled and shipped to the United States by boat, landing at the Port of Baltimore. The materials were then transported by train to the building site on the fairground arriving in late March of 1904. The Pavilion opened to visitors on May 9, 1904, and it showcased the best of Sweden at the Fair. The guest books show that it was a favorite gathering place for both Swedes and Swedish-Americans.

At the close of the Fair, the Swedish Pavilion was purchased by W.W. Thomas, U.S. Minister to Sweden and Norway, and presented to Bethany College in Lindsborg as a memorial to his friend Carl Swensson who had died very suddenly in February, 1904. It served as a classroom for domestic sciences, library, museum and home to the art department for more than sixty years under Swedish born artist Birger Sandzen. Generations of students studied under Sandzen in this space and remember it fondly.

In 1969 the Swedish Pavilion was moved from Bethany College to the Old Mill Museum and a partial restoration was completed. The Pavilion is used for cultural heritage events several times throughout the year. The building was entered onto the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. In 1976 King Carl XVI Gustaf rededicated the building to all Swedes and Swedish-Americans.