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The South Gardens, Festival Hall, and the Palace of Horticulture
If there is one portion of the Exposition building scheme that does not seem to "belong" to the main group of palaces, it is that which lies south of the Avenue of Palms, including the South Gardens, Festival Hall, and the Palace of Horticulture. The relation of the two buildings to the main courts and palaces is clear: Festival Hall terminating the cross axis through the Court of Abundance and the Court of Flowers; the Palace of Horticulture terminating the cross axis through the Court of the Four Seasons and the Court of Palms. But though the organic relationship is apparent, the least discriminating of critics can see that these buildings are of an architectural style not in harmony with the central group of palaces. Both structures lack that fine sense of proportion and that simple and impressive dignity which characterize the architecture of the courts; and both are more or less pretentious and ornate.
The South Gardens
The South Gardens, like the buildings, have a certain magnificence but at the same time lack any distinctive appeal. The three basins with their fountains are imposing, and the individual beds of flowers are gorgeous in their profuse massing of color; but the distances are so great, and the sense of enclosure that means so much to gardens is so far lacking, that the lover of formal gardening will be less satisfied here than at several other places in the grounds.
Sculpture. The sculpture of the South Gardens is all on the three fountains. The immense central group, the Fountain of Energy, already has been described. In the other two basins the Mermaid Fountain is repeated. This is an attractively ornate bit of decorative design, surmounted by the figure of a mermaid with a dolphin. The figure was modeled from designs by Arthur Putnam. It is typical of the fine strength of his work, and at the same time appealing by the grace of its sinuous lines.
Festival Hall, designed for the many conventions and musical festivals of the Exposition period, is of typically French architecture of the modern school. The building is not unpleasing, but there is little about it to hold the interest. Robert Farquhar was the architect.
Sculpture. All the sculpture on Festival Hall is the work of Sherry E. Fry. The figures are well suited to their purpose, from the slender "Torch-Bearer," surmounting the minor domes, to the heavy reclining figures on the pylons at the main entrance. Most of the statues are too roughly finished to have more than a decorative interest, but the two groups flanking the main stairway are worthy of study. These two "Flower Girls," one on either side, have a beautiful flowing grace. But quite the most appealing things here are the two minor figures before the pedestals on which the Flower Girls stand. Before the one at the north is a captivating boy Pan with a lizard. Half hidden in the shrubbery at the other side is the sitting figure of a girl, attractively immature and charming in line.
Palace of Horticulture
The Palace of Horticulture is characterized by that combination of Eastern and Western architectural motives which is so noticeable throughout the buildings. The dome is Byzantine, while the rest of the building is of Renaissance, or modern, French architecture. The dome considered alone is an almost perfect bit of design, beautifully proportioned and finely simple. The rest of the building is in general over-decorated, the portals especially being heavily loaded down with meaningless ornament. Apologists for the building say that the profuse ornateness rightly suggests the richness of California's horticulture. Perhaps the best view of the dome is from the east end of the Avenue of the Nations, near the Denmark building, because from there one can see it unobstructed, escaping the disturbing effect of the portals and their spires. The Palace of Horticulture was designed by Bakewell and Brown of San Francisco.
Sculpture. All of the sculpture here is purely decorative. The frieze at the base of each spire, consisting of heavy female figures modeled in pairs, is by E. L. Boutier. The ornamental Caryatides of the porches are by John Bateman.