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Welcome to the World's Fair Newsletter: March 2016

New on the Web

A New Poster

For many of us the '39 Fair is still alive and well. One such person is Jackie Collins who created a new poster for the Fair.

Jackie Collins Poster
Jackie Collins Poster

Jackie created only ten of these 30" x 24" posters. Signed, dated, and numbered, one was sent to me as a thank you for the website.

Mr. Collins is a collector of items from the 1939 New York World's Fair as can be seen from the photo of his daughter Maureen modelling an original 1939/1940 New York World's Fair uniform.

The badge which is unique and rare says "America at Home." Maureen is also wearing original hat the women wore in 1939. Note the blue buttons on the uniform jacket.

Maureen modeling a 1939/1940 Fair Uniform
Maureen modeling a 1939/1940 Fair Uniform

Vann Memorial Tower of the Belgian Friendship Building (Belgium Pavilion)

Vann Memorial Tower of the Belgian Friendship Building
Vann Memorial Tower of the Belgian Friendship Building

Most already know that the Belgium Pavilion was a gift to Virginia Union University, in Richmond, Virginia from the Belgian Government.

The first stone was laid on June 19, 1941 and completed in 1942. Its original carillon, while in New York, was given to Herbert Hoover for his humanitarian efforts in Belgium after WWI. These bells ring from Hoover Tower of Stanford University. (read more on the Bells for Peace page.)

On February 7th I received this from E. Dianne Watkins, President and Founder, Bell for Peace.


Bells for Peace Inc. is proud to present Virginia Union University (VUU) with full lighting of Vann Memorial Tower of the Belgian Friendship Building. The gift comes through a partnership Bells for Peace developed with the Musco Electric Company of Iowa, the late Dr. Allix B. James, former VUU President, and the Art Deco Society of Virginia - for Virginia Union University. Now VUU will be visible to the entire greater Richmond community. Individuals from Maine to Florida will see VUU's stunning beacon from Interstate 95.

Bells for Peace donated funds to VUU to light the 161' tower in 2013. However, this lighting was insufficient and could not achieve the impact that was sought.

Musco Lighting has been a longstanding supporter of the national park system, designing innovative lighting solutions for some of our nation's most well-known national parks and monuments. Through a unique partnership with the National Park Foundation, the company brings over 30 years of experience in the lighting industry to providing energy-efficient systems to national parks. Musco has provided lighting solutions at The White House and the Washington Monument, and has engineered lighting schemes that protect the skyscape of the Flight 93 National Memorial and the night skies at Big Bend National Park. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the Musco Team again partnered with the National Park Foundation to light the Statue of Liberty.

Vann Memorial Tower is named after Robert L. Vann, a former VUU student who went on to win a scholarship from the University of Pittsburgh, become an attorney and editor of the Pittsburgh Courier. His credentials include appointment as Assistant Attorney General in the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. Following his death in 1940 his wife, Jessie Vann, VUU Trustee Board Member donated the funds necessary to erect the tower portion of the Belgian Building.

A brilliantly lit tower, with the sound of bells, comes just as VUU celebrates its 150th anniversary. Bells for Peace honors alumni and friends and the 161,000 men who were processed by the US War Department's Selective Services Unit for World War II from within the Building.

The Belgian Friendship Building is listed as a Virginia Landmark by the Landmarks Commission and National Treasure by the Department of Interior's National Parks System.

Bells for Peace, Inc was founded in 2004 in memory of Dr. John Ellison, a VUU alumnus and his wife Elizabeth. Dr. Ellison was the institution's first African American president. "Peace bells" ring for access to education, health care, housing, employment and justice.

Bells for Peace is grateful to the Greater Richmond community, VUU alumni, friends, and the world community who have contributed to the work of Bells for Peace, Inc since its founding in 2004.


People Seeking Information:

Thomas Pekar

I read that German anti-Nazi emigrants to US (like Thomas Mann) planned to organize a Pavilion at the World's Fair. Do you have any information about that?

Thanks a lot, Thomas

Ron Knox

Hello, my blind father played marimba at the '39-'40 NY World's Fair for Ripley's Believe it or not. Do you know if there are any pictures in your book showing Ripley's area or even my dad. He was 'Pierce Knox,' blind marimba or xylophone player.

Thanks for your time.

Geoffrey Hill

My grandfather was aboard the HMAS Australia/Sydney as a Bandsman that visited the 1939 World Fair, and I would love to know if there were any recordings (video or audio) of any of their performances. He was with the Navy Band and I believe the ship was Australia's main representation at the fair.

I would love to know if you know of any images/ footage or audio recordings of their performance(s). Even if you could suggest where I could search next then that would be wonderful. His name was Arthur Edward Henry Davies, or Mick for short.

Many thanks and kind regards from Australia, Geoffrey Hill

Joseph Simpson

I am looking for an artist, sculptor and/or wood carver by the name of John Joseph Billings. I briefly remember my Mother pointing out one or more statues of his during my trip there in 1939/1940. Your thoughts. Thanks. Joe Simpson

Jeri Amesbury - Boniello

I have nothing to appraise but I do have a question regarding a baking contest held at the fair. My Grandmother, Isabelle D Amsbury won a huge (commercial?) oven at a baking contest for what I believe was for a cake she baked. I would love to find out any information on the oven and especially the cake plus if all photos. Would you possibly know of how I might find more information? I would so greatly appreciate any advice. Thank you! Jeri

Alice Macri

My late Mom worked for AT&T all of her career. She was a long distance operator/instructor and was chosen to work at the 39 Fair ATT pavilion putting up ld calls. She was so proud to be part of the future tech she saw there. I hope to feel connected to her and learn more about the Fair and get a visual picture of what it was like to her. Is some audio available as Mom said her voice went out over speaker heard by visitors? Thank you, Alice

Jon Tessler (from Feb 2016)

John Tessler's Father at the Fair

I have a B&W photo of my father at the World's Fair, and am trying to find out more information about where it might have been taken at the fair. Thanks, Jon

With regard to the Note from Paul: to Jon Tessler, it would appear that the "smaller" people are sitting at the table rather than on it! That's quite a stack of bread Jon that your father is going after! Must be at some sort of serve-yourself eatery, judging from the table behind him and to his right? Ron Freeman

Note from Paul: In the background it looks like a band and people dancing but it also looks like they are on a table. There is a person in white shoes on the right side of the railing that appears to be twice as tall as the figures on the left of the railing.

Scott McBride

I am researching marble tournaments and it is my understanding that season 2 of the fair included a national marble tournament Berry Pink, president of Marble King company. Do you have any information about that tournament? It was played in an area of the fair called the Academy of Sports.

George McGowan

George McGowan parents

I have a photo of my parents at the 1939 World's Fair (I think). They are sitting in what looks like an old open top auto. is it possible to have someone look at the photo and verify whether it was a ride at the Fair?

If you can help find an answer, contact me.

View the current list of questions. If you have a question email me and I will add it to the list.

The World's Fair Gift Shop

The holidays are are here so why not give a bit of history to someone you care about (or even for yourself.)

Visit the Gift Shop to purchase many items from the 1939 NY World's Fair.

Money raised from the sale of items goes towards maintaining the website.


Join the World's Fair Community page on Facebook - Simply "Like" the page, while you are there, and why not add a post or a comment.

Lost on facebook?: Many people have posted on the 1939 New York World's Fair Community facebook page only to get lost on the left-side under "Posts to Page." If you want your post to be seen in the main section of the page, I need to make you an editor. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Send a "Friend Request" to my personal account (Paul M. Van Dort or TriviaWolf).
  2. Be sure to "Like" the 1939 New York World's Fair Community page.
  3. Send me a message to let me know you would like to be an Editor and I'll do the rest.


Would you like a link on the World's Fair Website? Take a look at the links page to see how I am adding the links. Hover over the link name to reveal a descriptive panel, click the link to visit the site.

Contact me with the information that you want to appear. Links must be approved before they are added.