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Your Link to the Past

Your Link to the Past

Sioux City Corn Palaces

From 1887 to 1891, Sioux Cityans celebrated the autumn harvest with a festival featuring the construction of a large building in downtown called a Corn Palace covered in corn and other grains. Besides having the distinction of constructing the “World’s First Corn Palace,” the festivals hosted well-known entertainers and even the sitting president of the United States. September 24 will mark the 130th anniversary of the opening of the 1888 Corn Palace in Sioux City. Although the festivals were short lived, they are still remembered because of the excellent print and photographic collections at the Sioux City Public Museum. 

1887 Corn Palace

cp_1887_1The Corn Place committee hired architect W.E. Loft to create the plans for the first corn palace structure. His original plan called for a building 58 feet by 58 feet to be built at the northwest corner of Fifth and Jackson Streets. However, planners soon decided to enlarge the building to 100 feet by 100 feet. It was again enlarged to include the Goldie Roller Rink. The final size of the corn palace encompassed more than 18,000 square feet of floor space.

The budget increased, too. Originally, the budget was just $5,000. However, it was soon clear that this would not be enough, and a finance committee was appointed to raise a total of $25,000. The work on the palace could then begin.

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1889 Corn Palace

1888 Corn Palace

The second corn palace, built the next year in 1888, was even more splendid than the first. It was built at a new site on the northeast corner of Sixth and Pierce. There was a huge main tower and several smaller towers, and every square inch of the exterior was covered with grain. The only wood showing was on the flagpoles. Inside there was a roomy courtyard surrounded by display galleries. In the courtyard people could enjoy three daily concerts played by the famous Elgin Band from Elgin, Illinois.

CP_1888.3

Read more: 1888 Corn Palace

1890 Corn Palace

The biggest palace yet, the 1890 Corn Palace featured a 200-foot main tower and six 100-foot towers. A huge dome, built as part of the largest tower, formed a giant globe with various countries mapped with grains of corn. Of course, Iowa faced front and center with Sioux City most prominently displayed.

cp_1890 One of the inside highlights, according to the Sioux City Journal, was a miniature valley, "and from far distant mountains clothed in pines came a stream of water, leaping over rocks, winding across a meadow, and falling into a lake below where palmettos were growing." The palace also had an auditorium that seated 1,200 people.

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