Acetylene Building

There existed an Acetylene Building at the Exposition because in 1901 acetylene gas was in competition with all other sources of light for domestic use. The building was, of course, lighted inside and out by acetylene gas and its brilliant white light accentuated the difference between lighting by acetylene gas and by yellow-toned incandescent light.

The building occupied a prominent location along the mall directly across from the Bazaar Building and across the canal from the Machinery and Transportation Building. It was an L-shaped structure forty feet high. Its long side (facing the Mall) was 41.5 feet by 101 feet; its wing (facing the canal) was 59.5 feet by 65 feet.

The entrance part of the building featured many high windows with transoms and sashes that opened to provide ventilation. The front entrance had two enormous pedestals with vases of plants. The hipped roof was topped with the word "Acetylene" spelled out on a crest spanning the length. There were numerous statues around the balustrade (note the cherubs perched on each corner holding light sticks).

The interior of the entrance section was a large open space with acetylene manufacturer displays. The ell was a dark room, presumably for demonstrating the particular quality of acetylene gase to turn "night into day."

The Honduras Building and the Ohio buildings were also lit by acetylene generators housed within those buildings.

Although heavily advertised as a source for domestic use during this time, acetylene would not prove viable for household use. It was expensive in equipment and calcium carbide supplies, the light was not reliable because the gas had to be generated before it could be burned (leaving a flickering in light while more gas was generated), the burner had to be cleaned often, and it was not entirely safe because the technology for utilizing the gas safely was rudimentary. Before long, electric power generation and delivery proved to be the right product to meet the demand for home lighting. Actylene would go on to be used in automobile headlights, lighthouse lamps, miner's lamps, eventually finding its best uses in welding/cutting equipment.