MITCHELL, S.D. — The iconic domes and turrets have been removed from the Corn Palace in Mitchell as a $7.2 million makeover project proceeds, making the skyline above Main Street noticeably empty.
"She looks pretty naked now," project manager Dave Epp told The Daily Republic newspaper .
Removing the domes required the use of two cranes — one for the largest dome, which is 30½ feet tall and weighs 11,500 pounds, and one for the two smaller domes, which are 18 feet tall and weigh a few thousand pounds.
Workers first removed the flag poles from the top of the domes, then removed the bolts that attached the domes' metal frames to the building. They then fastened the cranes' slings to the metal frames and hoisted the domes off the building.
The two smaller domes and two turrets were removed Wednesday, and the largest dome came down Thursday. The process went smoothly, Epp said.
The Corn Palace bills itself as the world's only palace dedicated to the grain. About 200,000 tourists visit each year.
The upgrade to the facility will include new domes and lighting, larger corn murals and a walk-out balcony above the marquee. Changes to the exterior of the building are being done during the $4 million first phase, which got underway last month.
The existing City Hall attached to the north side of the Corn Palace will be vacated and renovated to include exhibits and a theater in the second phase. A new City Hall will be built in southern downtown Mitchell.
The removal of the domes caught some people by surprise. Mayor Ken Tracy said he was not aware they would be taken down so early in the renovation process.
"This is another indication that the renovation is moving forward," he said. "I think everyone is anxious to see what the new one looks like."
There had been discussion among city officials about trying to salvage the old domes and put them to use some other way, but Tracy said that appears unlikely
"It's a bit of our history that's going to be gone," he said.
Information from: The Daily Republic, http://www.mitchellrepublic.com