When Mitchell’s first Corn Palace was built in 1892, it was only one of at least 34 grain palaces in the Midwest from the 1880s to the 1930s. The current Mitchell Corn Palace was built in 1921 and it’s the only one of the “prairie palaces” that’s survived. The familiar Moorish-style minarets and turrets were added to the building’s roof in 1937 to recreate the look of the earlier corn palaces.
Each year, the Corn Palace is redecorated with naturally colored corn, other grains and grasses. A different theme is chosen each year and murals are designed to reflect that theme. Past designers have included Oscar Howe and Cal Schultz. Cherie Ramsdell is the current designer of the Corn Palace murals. She’s a potter and painter and assistant professor of art at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell. Wade Strand grows the colored corn used in the designs as well as the rye and other grasses used in the borders of the murals. They joined Dakota Midday and discussed the process of creating the murals.
The buildng is currently undergoing a major remodeling project both inside and out but is still open. Corn Palace manager Jeri Mickelson also joined the program with details on the project and the future of the South Dakota icon.