Agricultural Pavilion (1888-1902). Courtesy photo, the Bank of Stockton Archives
It was on this day in 1902 that Stockton’s largest and most prominent building at the time, the Agricultural Pavilion, burned down. This architectural masterpiece occupied one square block on what later became Washington Park, now the cross-town freeway across from St. Mary’s Church. The building was completed in 1888 was able to seat 12,000 people and housed the county fair exhibits.
Local architect, Charles Beasley, who used woodwork in a variety of forms, textures, materials and colors, designed the building in the Queen Anne style. Towers, projecting pavilions and horizontal siding give the building a visual sense of grandeur. The striking wood and glass building had eight towers modeled after a Chinese Pagoda giving it a unique and striking balance. The center of the structure there was a large dome.
Built in the shape of a Greek cross where glass conservatories in each four corners, which not only lit the main floor but also provided an opportunity to display the varied plant life on the county. Although it had eight entrance towers, there were three grand entrances. The eight pagoda towers had oriental detailing with distinctive oriental cast metal details, which was unprecedented in 1887.
Oriental design were not present in Californian at that time, as San Francisco’s China town did not exist before 1906, architect Charles Beasley was ahead of his time.
Source : Weitze, Karen (1980). Charles Beasley, Architect (1827-1913): Issues and Images. The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, V39, N3, pp. 187-207.