1890 Corn Palace Quilt

Date: c. 1890

 

Description: In the heartland of the Midwest corn is king, and every king needs a palace. This quilt commemorates the 1890 Corn Palace of Sioux City, the fourth of five Corn Palaces to be built here. Every square inch of these palaces, exterior and interior, was covered in grain: mostly corn, but other grains and grasses as well. The exterior became famous for displaying Corn Palace murals, large images made from corn depicting a variety of Midwestern scenes or previous Corn Palaces. Each year a new Corn Palace was built and then torn down after an elaborate festival. The first was built in 1887 at Fifth and Jackson Street, and stood 100 feet tall, 25,000 square feet and used over 15,000 bushels of corn. It took fifteen days to haul the corn to the site, six days to erect the building, and over 300 people to decorate it.

 

The 1890 Corn Palace, shown here on this quilt, ran incandescent electric lights, many years before Siouxland homes would have electricity. The electricity for these lights was generated by the electric street car and cable railway powerhouses that were present in the city. The quilt was made by the Ladies Aid Society of the Haddock Memorial Church, and in the squares surrounding the Corn Palace were all the people, businesses, and organizations that offered funding and assistance in some way for the Corn Palace.

 

Corn Palaces eventually became too costly for the city to build and maintain. Issues like the Floyd River Flood of 1892 and the national economic recession meant that the 1891 Corn Palace was the last ever built in Sioux City. Mitchell, South Dakota built a Corn Palace in 1892. They built three different Corn Palaces through the years, until in 1921 the Corn Palace there became a permanent city auditorium, and still stands today.

*For more information on each of the Sioux City Corn Palaces, visit siouxcityhistory.org*

Donor: Jack Kilborne

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