2 - J. V. Bailey House
Click Image for a Larger VersionWho lived in the J.V. Bailey House? Text
Who Lived in the J.V. Bailey House?
“….we would play hide and seek in the greenhouse or run around in there. It was very very hot, very very warm in there. And the smell of the flowers was just kind of overpowering. So that’s where I remember a lot of my grandpa growing up is with the flowers in the greenhouse.”
In 1916 the State Fair built a green house here, next to what was once called the Officers Cottage. They also decided to offer the state fair gardener the cottage rent free, in exchange for his work. In addition to tending the grounds, his job was to maintain the greenhouse heater located in the basement of the cottage – a challenge during the long, cold winters!
And from then on, this building was home to greenhouse superintendents and their families. In 2006, the Officers Cottage was renovated and renamed the J.V. Bailey House, in honor of the founder of Bailey Nurseries, who was also the fair’s Superintendent of Horticulture for twenty years.
“…My great grandma, Margaret Bailey, lived in the Bailey House during the fair. She would sneak out at nighttime and got to get an ice cream cone. By the time she got up to the attic, the ice cream would be half-melted…”
Not many of us today can say that we have lived on the State Fairgrounds.
“…I remember there being a ton of people in our front yard watching the parade go by. As a kid I was very confused. I’m just kind of sitting there thinking, ‘Why are you in my front yard and not here in the winter?’”
Today the Bailey House is home to the Minnesota State Fair Foundation dedicated to preserving and improving State Fair buildings, grounds and educational experiences. And while the Bailey House no longer has a family living inside, it still has a great front lawn where you can watch the daily parade.
When was the Fair Canceled?
There were only five times in state fair history when the admission gates were closed during fair time. In 1861 and 1862 social upheavals due to the Civil War and The U.S.-Dakota War made it impossible to put on a state fair. The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair was so large, it over shadowed fairs across the country. Minnesota suspended its own fair that year, but the state was represented in exhibits in Chicago. Those same exhibits were reassembled for the next year’s fair at home. In 1945, federal officials pressured the fair to shut down to conserve fuel during World War II. And finally, in 1946, the fair was closed because of the polio epidemic that swept through the state. The fair reopened in 1947 and has been held every year since.
It didn’t take long for Minnesotans to come back to the fair when it reopened. Attendance topped one million for the first time in 1955. And in 2009, close to 1 million eight hundred thousand people attended the Minnesota State Fair. Who knows? Maybe this year attendance will top even that!
Live in the Bailey House?
If you had the opportunity to live in the Bailey House, would you do it?