Chicago Studies, a program of the undergraduate College at the University of Chicago, offers curricular and co-curricular opportunities to discover, study, and engage with the diverse communities of our world-class city.
During the Columbian Exposition, Maria Scammon leased her frontage on 59th St to the Epworth League, an evangelical youth group of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It built a 560 room hotel, the Epworth Hotel. It provided rooms for League members who visited the fair and a headquarters for the League’s evangelism campaign. Across the street was the German Village. Blaine Hall, which now occupies the site, was named for Emmons Blaine, the son of politician and statesman James G. Blaine, the “continental liar from the state of Maine.” The gift in his memory was made by his wife, Anita McCormick Blaine, the daughter of Cyrus McCormick, the Reaper King. Mrs. Blaine was an enthusiast for Francis W. Parker and his theories of education. Her money convinced him to leave the Chicago Normal School to become the head of Chicago Institute. Her money also enabled the University to found the School of Education, of which the Chicago Institute was one partner in a merger. Parker was the school’s first director.
During the World’s Fair, the Midway attraction on 59th between Kenwood and Dorchester was the Javanese and South Sea Settlement, with 300 natives from Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Jehore (Johor, southern tip of Malaysia), Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand (Maori), and Sandwich Islands. Said a guidebook: “The Singhalese, Malays, and other South Seas nations have their jugglers, medicine-men, acrobats, and dancers, … and some of their performances are really wonderful.”