The Upper Midwest's corniest tourist attraction is taking the rest of the summer off for an extreme makeover. And Mitchell, South Dakota, doesn't look the same.
The domes and turrets atop the Corn Palace came down this week as the arena undergoes a $7.2 million renovation and the project manager overseeing the work tells the Mitchell Republic the palace "looks pretty naked now."
The Republic captured a host of photos of the onion-shaped domes being removed by crane and reports the biggest of the three is 30 feet tall and weighs more than 11,000 pounds.
Their work staking out the skyline of the town of 15,000 is now complete. Forum News Service reports the replacement domes being built in the Twin Cities will illuminate from within. The renovation will also include larger corn murals on the walls of the palace and bigger second-floor windows opening onto a balcony over the marquee.
Forum News says the company operating the cranes for the dome removal – Jerke and Sons – hired another business (Cipher Imaging) to fly a small drone around the construction site and videotape the operation.
(When South Dakotans drone on about their Corn Palace, doesn't it make your ears hurt?)
Mitchell's interim public works director, Terry Johnson, tells KDLT-TV the lighting system with the new domes will allow the city to illuminate them with different colors that can be tailored to events the palace is hosting. Johnson says renovations of the interior will include installation of cob-like columns in the lobby.
KDLT says April 3 of next spring is the target date for completing the project.
The Corn Palace is owned by the city of Mitchell, which offers this preview of what the "Next Generation" palace will look like:
The Corn Palace is home to Mitchell's high school basketball games and seats more than 3,000.
The original palace went up in 1892 and the city says it now draws more than half-a-million visitors annually.