Constructed solely of native materials, its 155-foot tower of Belgian gray slate was crowned by a carillon of 36 bronze bells created by Jef Dedyn. Thoroughly air conditioned, the pavilion consisted of a reception hall, restaurant with seating capacity for 500, theater, tourist bureau and a collection of Belgian books that had been translated into English.
An effort is underway to restore the building. Read more on the Restorations Page, or visit www.BellsForPeace.org for complete details on this project and an in-depth history of the building.
In the mid-Thirties, Belgium officials politely requested controversial American composer Marc Blitzstein leave their country. On May 15, Mr. Blitzstein spent three hours perusing the Belgium pavilion as his sweet revenge.
Belgium became the first nation to file its exhibition plans to the fair's board of design. On February 12, 1938, the packaged details arrived on the Normandie and a courier in a speed boat hurried them to shore and then raced to the board's meeting room in the Empire State Building. The most impressive feature of the country's design was a carillon tower in which 100 bronze cast bells would be housed.
The Fair's first mascot took up residence in the Belgium pavilion. A Flushing Meadows alley cat appeared out of nowhere and insisted on jumping on any dignitary's lap who visited the Belgium fair commissioner, Dr. Joseph Gevaert.
When patrons asked if the pavilion's restaurant offered blue plate specials, Belgian servers politely pretended not to understand English.