Description: We offer four albumen photographs that show some of the lavish interior views of the “Pompeia” building in Saratoga Springs, NY and an 1892 handbook for the attraction. The Pompeia was a reproduction of the House of Pansa, a home of a wealthy nobleman who lived in Pompeii, Italy when it was destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. The building opened in 1889 on Broadway in Saratoga, just south of Congress Park and drew immense crowds of visitors who wanted to experience the novel spectacle of a bygone era.
The photographs show the Oecus, the Peristylium, the Strium, and the Hortus, or garden. The interiors feature fluted columns, Greco-Roman statuary, ornately painted walls and ceilings, lush foliage, even stuffed peacocks.
The 1892 handbook has 48 pages full of information on Pompeii and ancient Roman life. It is illustrated with a halftone of the interior, an illustration of the eruption of Vesuvius on the title page, the floor plan of the building, and several contemporary ads.
Pompeia was built by Franklin W. Smith (1826-1911), the wealthy Boston merchant and idealistic reformer. After moving to Saratoga in the 1880’s, Smith wanted to contribute something educational to the culture of a town known for gambling and horse racing. In 1891, Pompeia served as the site of a reception for President Benjamin Harrison.
Despite his previous success, Smith encountered financial troubles at the turn of the century and lost his properties. Pompeia suffered damage from a fire in 1926, and through new ownership, did not reopen as a tourist attraction. The building still stands today, though it no longer has its upper level.
All photographs are titled on the mount and have a copyright statement in the negative: Copyrighted, 1889, by Franklin W. Smith. Pencil identification and description on versos of all photographs. Photos measure: 7 3/8” x 9 5/8” on 10” x 12”mounts. Item #P00142.
Condition: Mounts have scattered light soil, not affecting photographs. Overall in very good condition with very good contrast and resolution. Handbook's corners and spine ends bumped, staining on wraps, dated ink stamp on front wrap, pencil notes indicate that page 39 is bound out of order, though all pages are present.