The Winter Midway Plaisance

The Oil City Relief Association and city hall teamed up in December 1894 for a week-long celebration to raise money for the city’s poor.

Billed as the Winter Midway Plaisance, the events mirrored similar activities held in major cities across the U.S. at that time. They were in tribute to the Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair, held the previous year to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the New World in 1492.

In Oil City, the Plaisance (a French word that means pleasantness) was held in city hall which was located just down Seneca Street from the U.S. Post Office, now the Venango Museum. City hall and adjoining fire station were filled with attractions, performances, lectures, exhibits and more. Tents were also set up to accommodate the spectacle.

Attendance was limited on some nights of the seven-day festivities to just Franklin or Titusville residents. The Relief Association noted its “prime motive was to raise money for the Oil City Relief Association to be used during the coming winter in the interests of the worthy poor.”

The No. 1 Hose House, City Hall, and Post Office on Seneca Street.

Written by Judy Etzel with research by Kay Dawson and design by Natalie Cubbon.


Jack Eckert & Susan Hahn

In Memory of Kay Ensle

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