Corn Palace
The Corn Palace is a multi-purpose arena/facility located in Mitchell, South Dakota. It is a popular tourist destination, visited by more than 500,000 people each year. The Moorish Revival building is decorated with Crop art; the murals and designs covering the building are made from corn and other grains. It also hosts the home basketball games of Dakota Wesleyan University and the Mitchell High School Kernels.

The original Mitchell Corn Palace (known as "The Corn Belt Exposition") was built in 1892 to showcase the rich soil of South Dakota and encourage people to settle in the area. It was a wooden castle structure on Mitchell's Main Street. In 1904”“1905, the city of Mitchell mounted a challenge to the city of Pierre in an unsuccessful attempt to replace it as the state capital of South Dakota. As part of this effort, the Corn Palace was rebuilt in 1905. In 1921 the Corn Palace was rebuilt once again, with a design by the architectural firm Rapp and Rapp of Chicago. Moorish domes and minarets were added in 1937, giving the Palace the distinctive appearance that it has today. It costs $130,000 annually to decorate the Palace. The exterior corn murals are replaced and redesigned each year with a new theme. The designs are created by local artists. From 1948 to 1971 the artist Oscar Howe designed the panels. Calvin Schultz designed the murals from 1977 to 2002. Since 2003, the murals have been designed by Cherie Ramsdell. No new mural was created in 2006 due to an extreme drought. Besides being a tourist attraction, the Corn Palace also serves the local community as a venue for concerts, sports events, exhibits and other community events. Each year, the Corn Palace is celebrated with a citywide festival, the Corn Palace Festival. Historically it was held at harvest time in September, but recently it has been held at the end of August. Other popular annual events include the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo (in July) and the Corn Palace Polka Festival (in September). It is also home to the Dakota Wesleyan University Tigers and the Mitchell High School Kernels basketball teams. The Corn Palace in Mitchell was preceded by several other grain palaces including: a Corn Palace in Sioux City, Iowa that was active from 1887”“1891; a Corn Palace in Gregory, South Dakota; a Grain Palace in Plankinton, South Dakota; and a Bluegrass Palace in Creston, Iowa. In 2004, national media attention was drawn to the Corn Palace, when it received Homeland Security funding. This drew criticism of the Department of Homeland Security and its grant program. In 2007, the Corn Palace subsequently received $25,000 in DHS funding for a camera system useful for purposes including Barack Obama's visit in 2008, and as reported by the Mitchell Republic, to protect a "new Fiberglas statue of the Corn Palace mascot Cornelius" in 2009. This statue sits across Main Street, west of the Corn Palace.

Corn palace designs by year

  • Briggs, John Ely. "The Sioux City Corn Palaces." The Palimpsest 44, no. 12 (1963): 549-62.
  • Cerney, Jan. Images of America: Mitchell's Corn Palace. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2004.
  • "A Chronological History of the World's Only Corn Palace." Mitchell, SD: CPD Distribution, 2001.
  • Guhin, Paula. The King of Corn, Cal Schultz: Having the Times of His Life. Aberdeen, SD: Prairie Home Press, 2002.
  • Mitchell Chamber of Commerce. A Year by Year History Of ... The World's Only Corn Palace. 5th ed. Mitchell, SD: Educator Supply Company, 1957.
  • Pennington, Robert. Oscar Howe: Artist of the Sioux. Sioux Falls, SD: Dakota Territory Centennial Commission, 1961.
  • Rubin, Cynthia Elyce. "The Midwestern Corn Palaces: A 'Maize' of Detail and Wonder." The Clarion (1983): 24-31.
  • Schwieder, Dorothy and Patricia Swanson, “The Sioux City Corn Palaces,” Annals of Iowa 41, no. 8 (Spring 1973): 1209-1227.
  • Simpson, Pamela H. "Cereal Architecture: Late-Nineteenth-Century Grain Palaces and Crop Art." In Building Environments: Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, Volume X, edited by Kenneth A. Breisch and Alison K. Hoagland, 269-82. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2005.
  • Simpson, Pamela H. "Turn-of-the-Century Midwestern Corn Festivals: Kiosks and Crop Art as American Icons." Arris 14 (2003): 1-15.


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