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Purpose

"Jenny"

Meet Virginia Parkhurst. She is one of the women for which the Womans Building was designed. Miss Parkhurst followed trends of the day by attending the Fair in her finest clothing. She was quite likely the well-to-do daughter of an agriculturalist/businessmen. Notice she is leaning against a rail with binoculars in-hand. Leaning into the future. What does she see? A time when she can be a jockey, own her own horse farm, vote, go to space, be president? She knows her own unlimited potential and is yearning to bring it to fruition.

Although well adept at playing the part of a lady she has the spirit of a tomboy. Her father frequently finds her reading the Wall Street Journal, sneaking off to the barn, and hiking her skirt to ride her favorite horse. He appreciates her slightly rebellious spirit and can-do-anything attitude. He too knows the future is hers to make as she chooses. He built the Womans Building for the young woman he calls, Jenny.
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Womans Building

The Womans Building was built in 1910. The men who created the Missouri State Fair planned a special space for women and children. This was no ordinary building. It was designed by Thomas Bast to look like an elegant home in the Georgian Revival Style. It reflects the important role women played in our society and the value men placed on them in their personal lives. It would have been easy (and not out of keeping with the times) to have put the space for women in a tent (like the first aid station) or a white frame "house" like the first administration building. However, the men leading this effort had a much greater vision. They not only created a space for the women of 1910, they created an enduring landmark as a tribute to the women of Missouri.

The original building had two lounges on the first floor, resting rooms on the second floor and a ballroom on the third floor. It was not unusual for people to travel at least two days to reach the Missouri State Fair. Having their own place to clean up and rest was a nice treat for the women. It also gave them a place to nurse their children and put them down for a nap. A day nursery and playground were located on the rear of the building where mothers could leave their children in good care while they visited the Fair with the men folk. There are four fireplaces in the building. Today, the structure remains nearly the same except for the day nursery and playground that were removed due to safety concerns in 1965.

On June 28, 1991, the Womans Building was placed on the National Historical Register.

Many have wondered why the name of the building is spelled and punctuated as it is - Womans Building instead of the grammatically correct - Women's Building. The simple explanation is that it was a typo made in stone.

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For 106 years, the Womans Building has served as an enduring tribute to the women of Missouri. It reflects their strength and beauty and is testimony to their invaluable role in our culture. While the structure has great bones, it is in desperate need of renovation.

Why is preservation of this beautiful building important? It is often said that the American farmer is the backbone of our country. I think the American farmer would tell you that farm women are the heart beat of our country. At a time when women didn't so much as have the right to vote, the men of Missouri knew how valuable they were to our success as a people. Their vision has sustained not only the building itself, but the hopes and aspirations of women for four generations. This building provides women a place to come home to, to re-connect with their roots. It is a place with from which women can draw strength, and energy, and sustenance while reflecting on the women who have paved the way for them.

It is essential we continue the revolutionary vision for another 100 years. To do this, we need your help. All proceeds from Sip & Shop the Best of Missouri will be used to create a new life-sustaining plan for the Womans Building.
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