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Built for the 1915 Pan-Pacific International Exhibition held in San Francisco, California, the Palace of Fine Arts was the only one that was kept standing on its original site and one of the ten palaces that was left when the exhibit ended because everything displayed was created temporarily and meant to be demolished after the exposition.

The Roman and Greek architecture inspired palace was so adored that while the exposition was still in progress, Phoebe Apperson Hearst brought into being the Palace Preservation League with the purpose of preserving the masterpiece. Surrounded by an artificial lagoon, the palace was constructed as a replica of those found in classical settings in Europe. However, it was built unstable with the use of wood to frame the rotunda and the eight colonnades covered with a mixture of plaster and burlap-type fiber called ?staff?.

Though composed poorly, the palace hosted a continuous art exhibit and from 1934 to 1942 it housed eighteen lighted tennis courts. The palace served the City of San Francisco remarkably that during the World War II it was occupied by the United States Army for storage of trucks, jeeps and other army vehicles and when the United Nations was formed in the city, limousines used by the world leaders who are members of the prestigious organization came from a motor pool there. From 1947, the palace was used as a city Park Department warehouse, a telephone book distribution center, a flag and tent storage depot, and as a temporary Fire Department headquarters. Sadly, due to abuse in use and vandalism, by the 1950?s the palace was a collapsing ruin.

To restore to life the astounding structure, the Palace of Fine Arts was completely demolished in 1964 then was reconstructed in permanent, light-weight, poured-in-place concrete and the wooden rotunda was replaced by steel I-beams. Almost everything was revived and duplicated in the rebuilding of the palace except for the murals in the dome, the two end pylons of the colonnade and its original ornamentation. In 1969, the palace became a home to the Exploratorium (an interactive science museum) and in 1970 it housed the 1,000 seat Palace of Fine Arts Theater, both are famous attractions. The man-made lagoon adjacent to the palace is now decorated with Australian eucalyptus trees and has become a home to many wildlife animals including swans, ducks (particularly migrating fowl), geese, turtles, frogs, and raccoons.
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