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October 17th, 2011:

Exposition Hall at the North Carolina State Fair

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One of the things I love about having so much digitized content online is the way that, with a little elbow grease and some curiosity, you can sometimes pull together multiple sources about a single person, place or thing.

Here’s a recent set of items I found while looking for information on the North Carolina State Fairgrounds and how it’s changed over time. Over at North Carolina Maps, I found a great set of 1914 Sanborn® Insurance Maps for Raleigh. One page shows the Fairgrounds across from what is now NC State, off of “Hillsboro” and “Fairgrounds Ave”. One of the central buildings, southwest of the racetrack, is the Exhibition Hall, which was built in 1873*.

Detail of 1914 map number 71. Image courtesy of North Carolina Maps.

Take a look at that Exhibition Hall in 1884, the first photograph I could discover of it online and directly from our North Carolina Digital Collections.

To give you a sense of what it looked like during a bustling Fair, here’s a photograph from the 1915 State Fair Premium List, presumably taken about the same time as the map above was created. You can see the Hall in the upper left.

The 1925 Fair was the last time this Exhibit Hall saw such crowds. Over the next few years, the State Fair came under the jurisdiction of North Carolina state government, and the land shown above was sold to subdivision developers.  The Fair was moved to its current location further west off of Hillsborough Street.  I’m not sure exactly when the Exhibit Hall above was demolished, but if you know, or if you’ve found other sources about the Hall online, please leave a comment below.

If you’re visiting the North Carolina State Fair (it’s going on RIGHT NOW!), help us make sure we have records of the Fair for years to come by contributing a photograph or written memory at Blue Ribbon Memories.


*McLaurin, Melton. (2003) The North Carolina State Fair: The First 150 Years. Raleigh: North Carolina Office of Archives and History.

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