Life and death of the Ohio State Building of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

Ohio State Building of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition being barged from San Francisco to San Carlos, August 16, 1916.


The Ohio Building stood at San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Expo in 1915. At the end of the fair, it was floated into the sloughs of San Mateo County (now the city of San Carlos), where it slowly deteriorated. Plans for a yacht club failed. It became a speakeasy during Prohibition. This grand structure ended up as a machine shop for auto parts. In 1957 declared a fire hazard it was razed by the County.

More details at the end of the post.


Ohio State Building At The Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915. Courtesy of San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.

Leaving San Francisco


Ohio State Building on the way to San Carlos, 1916. Courtesy of San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.

Ohio State house after it was delivered to the mudflats at San Carlos.

Newscopy: “Roaring flames consume the Ohio Building, one of few remaining structures of 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. The old landmark was put to torch to make way for an asphalt plant to be constructed on mud-flats near Belmont. The Ohio Building, memento of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition here and a Peninsula landmark for 40 years, was burned yesterday in the name of progress. While a crowd of more than 2000 persons watched, workmen poured fuel oil on the faded pink and white structure on the San Carlos mud-flats, then set it on fire. Flames spread quickly through the dry timber, sending up a column of smoke visible for miles. Soon the building was a huge pile of charred rubble and ashes. Sparks set eight small grass fires east of the San Carlos Airport which the San Mateo County fire department extinguished. Charles H. Berger, Belmont contractor and owner of the building, had decided the cheapest way to remove it was to burn it.
Skyline Materials, Inc. of San Francisco plans to build an asphalt plant on the site. The building, a replica of the Ohio State capitol, was erected in the Marina as one of the fair’s most splendid structures. After the fair it was bought by a promoter who planned to use it as a yachting clubhouse, and it was taken by barge to the shores of Steinberger Slough east of Belmont. Since then it accumulated a variety of wild stories during the prohibition era, with rumors it was a gambling point and a house of prostitution. With age came respectability, and in recent years it was the home of a movie company, a machine shop and a radar plant during World War II. Since then it has been unoccupied.”

Courtesy of San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.


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