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M. H. de Young founded the "Daily Dramatic Chronicle" newspaper in 1865 in San Francisco. Due to an article he published that suggested that the Spreckels Sugar Company defrauded its shareholders, Adolph B. Spreckels shot him in 1884; pleading temporary insanity, Spreckels was acquitted, and de Young recovered. In 1892, president Benjamin Harrison named de Young a national commissioner to the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago; the next year, based on that experience, de Young announced plans for a California Midwinter International Exposition to be held in Golden Gate Park, which Spreckels had been deeply involved in developing; he also served as San Francisco's park commissioner. Golden Gate Park Superintendent John McLaren opposed the exposition, claiming "the damage to the natural setting would take decades to reverse." But the US Congress approved de Young's plans, and the 200-acre exposition opened in 1894. The following year, de Young used a $200,000 surplus to fund for the establishment of a California's first permanent art museum, housed in the expo's Egyptian Revival-style Fine Arts Building. Badly damaged in the 1906 earthquake, it was closed for a year and a half for repairs.
Meanwhile, in 1908, after a controversial five-year courtship, Spreckels married Alma de Bretteville in 1908. Her poverty-stricken Danish immigrant father claimed to be a descendant of one of Napoleon's generals (de Young's maternal grandfather, Benjamin Morange, had served as Napoleon's minister to Spain). Alma had beome a nude model in her teens and, as a model for a monument to Spanish-American War hero George Dewey, she became involved with Spreckels, the chairman of the committee in charge of the monument; due to the 24-year difference in their ages, she coijed the expression "sugar daddy" as a term of endearment for her sugar-magnate husband. Alma became the driving force behind the construction of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, a full-scale replica by George Applegarth and H. Guillaume of the French Pavilion at the 1915 Panama–Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco (which was a 3/4-scale version of Pierre Rousseau's Palais de la Légion d'Honneur in Paris); at the close of the expo, the French government granted Spreckels permission to construct a permanent replica of the French Pavilion, but World War I delayed the groundbreaking until 1921. Meanwhile, de Young's museum was enlarged; Louis Christian Mullgardt, the archictural coordinator for the Panama-Pacific Exposition, designed a new Spanish-Plateresque-style building, which was completed in 1919 and formally transferred by de Young to the city's park commissioners. In 1921, he added a central section and a twisting 144 foot (44 m) tower. A west wing was completed in 1925, the year de Young died (eight months after Spreckels), and the museum was renamed the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum. In 1929 the original Egyptian-style building was declared unsafe and demolished, and in 1949, the elaborate cast concrete ornamentation of the original de Young was removed because its supporting steel had been rusted by the salt air. The two museums merged in 1972 as the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the de Young's collection of European art was sent to the Legion of Honor, but the de Young received the right to display most of the anthropological holdings, including pre-Colombian works from Teotihuacan and Peru and tribal art from sub-Saharan Africa. The building was severely damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and demolished. Swiss architects Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron won the right to design a new structure in 1999, and they chose Fong & Chan as the principal architects; Walter Hood, a landscape architect based in Oakland, designed the museum's new gardens. The new building opened in 2005. The entire exterior is clad in 163,118 sq ft (15,154.2 m2) of variably perforated and dimpled copper plates, which will oxidize and take on a greenish tone and a distinct texture to echo the nearby eucalyptus trees; in addition, shapes were cut into the top to reveal gardens and courtyards. The only remaining elements of the original de Young are the vases and sphinxes located near the Pool of Enchantment and the palm trees in front of the building.
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