The second Ford Mansion was built in 1904 as the New Jersey State Exhibition Hall at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, more popularly known as the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. At the time, the Washington Association owned the Ford Mansion, and notes from their annual report for 1903 mentioned, “Permission has been granted to the New Jersey Commission for the St. Louis Exposition of 1904 to take such measurements and details of the Headquarters Building as will facilitate the erection of a copy of this building in the Exposition.” The building, erected at a cost of 15,000 dollars, was a replica of the Ford Mansion but with additions and large exterior porches. The interior was decorated in a “colonial style” with antique furniture and one room reproduced to look like Washington’s bedroom.
The World’s Fair was planned as a celebration of the centennial of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. It featured over 1,500 buildings on 1,200 acres and was the largest fair seen up to that time. Exhibits were erected by 62 foreign countries and 43 of the then 45 states of the United States. Like most World’s Fairs there were industrial, scientific and educational displays as well as amusements and food. Such familiar treats as ice cream cones, hamburgers, hot dogs, iced tea, Dr. Pepper soda and cotton candy were introduced to mass audiences and popularized by the 1904 fair. The fair also hosted the 1904 Summer Olympic Games, the first Olympics held in the United States.
Almost all the fair’s buildings were considered temporary structures and were torn down after the fair closed in December 1904. But the New Jersey State Exhibition Hall had a second life. It was disassembled and shipped by train to Sea Girt, New Jersey where it was destined to serve as a summer retreat for the governors of New Jersey.
The World’s Fair replica Ford Mansion was rebuilt on the grounds of the New Jersey National Guard Summer Training Camp at Sea Girt. Previously, New Jersey’s governors had sought refuge from the summer heat at an old two-story farmhouse on the property. But it was considered too small so the 15 room Ford Mansion replica was added to the property. The new Governor’s summer residence featured a modern and luxurious interior with three bathrooms, electric lighting and fancy furniture. The house served New Jersey’s governors from 1906 to 1941.
During its heyday as the governor’s summer residence played host to such notables as: General John Pershing, Franklin Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart and Will Rodgers. Governor Woodrow Wilson learned of his nomination as the 1912 Democratic Presidential candidate while enjoying the ocean breezes of Sea Girt. The last governor to use the house was Charles Edison, the son of Thomas Edison.
Later, the building served as classrooms for National Guard officer training and there were proposals to convert it into a museum. But in a cost-cutting move the second Ford Mansion was demolished in 1971.