Category Archives: Carnegie Resource Center

Carnegie Resource Center

Years ago I spent a summer volunteering at the Oscar Howe Art Museum, formerly housed in a beautiful pink quartzite building just off of Main Street in downtown Mitchell. My memory is a bit fuzzy – it was a decade ago – but I distinctly recall two things from that summer: learning to use a manual credit card machine, and the folks lying on the floor to get a better picture of Oscar Howe’s dome mural, “Sun and Rain Clouds over Hills.”

In the years since that summer, the Oscar Howe Art Museum has found a new home at the Dakota Discovery Museum and manual credit card machines have become obscure and quite nearly obsolete. The painted dome, however, remains in that beautiful quartzite building, now home to the Carnegie Resource Center. If you are in Mitchell – as a visitor or a resident! – make a point to stop in and see it.

While you’re there, check out some of the amazing Corn Palace memorabilia on display. From vintage signage to a scale-model of the first Corn Palace, some items are astoundingly one-of-a-kind. Looking for a game the whole family can play? While checking out the headshots of artists who have ‘Played the Palace,’ see who has heard of the most acts. (My number was dismally low… so much for thinking I had a well-rounded taste in music!)

If history, particularly community history, is of interest to you the Carnegie Resource Center is a can’t-miss destination. Whether its pictures of original buildings in Mitchell (both businesses and residences) or family history you’re seeking, the incredibly welcoming staff is happy to help.

And I assure you – if you lay on the ground to get a great picture of “Sun and Rain Clouds over Hills,” you won’t be the first person to do so.

Visit the Carnegie Resource Center and find out…
Anything you want to know about Mitchell history – including genealogy information if your family is from the area!

Mitchell isn’t just the home of the World’s Only Corn Palace – it’s my home, too. So come on over! Stop in for an afternoon, a weekend, a while.

Welcome.

Jacki Miskimins is the Director of the Mitchell Convention & Visitors Bureau. She is documenting her experiences rediscovering her hometown. Do you have an idea for a post? Let her know!

Carnegie Resource Center

This is a guest post from Pam Range of the Carnegie Resource Center in Mitchell, SD.

Just a short walk from the World’s Only Corn Palace lies a hidden gem in Mitchell’s downtown area: the Carnegie Resource Center. Built in 1903 as the Carnegie Library, this historic building amazes all who enter its majestic splendor.

Upon entering this grand building, look up! You will find a magnificent dome decorated with a mural, “Sun and Rain Clouds over Hills.” This beautiful painting was created by the famous Yanktonai Sioux artist Oscar Howe, who spent much of his life in Mitchell. Howe painted the mural in 1940 as a WPA project to employ out of work artists and was paid $60 for his work. To reach the tall heights of the dome, he made a scaffold out of wooden boxes and planks. Howe laid out the mural in such a fashion that at night, with the lights in the dome area on, one of the thunderbirds is perfectly framed by the window.

Due to the extreme heat during the day, Howe worked during the nighttime hours. The heat affected more than just his schedule, however; it also determined his medium. On his second day of work, Howe returned to the building only to find that all the painting he had done the first night had run down the walls! He had been using tempera paint (an egg-based substance), and the heat had ruined his work. Not to be discouraged, Howe switched to an oil-based paint to finish the project.

The west wing of the Carnegie building houses a fireplace built to model the one that was in Andrew Carnegie’s house at the time. Carnegie provided $10,000 to the city of Mitchell to construct the library. Additions were added in 1930 and 1960 to the library.

The Carnegie Resource Center is owned by the Mitchell Area Historical Society and, along with the Mitchell Area Genealogical Society, is preserving the building. Displays of Mitchell history and special exhibits celebrating the Corn Palace legacy can be viewed by the public at no charge. An entire room of Corn Palace memorabilia chronicles the history of the three buildings that have been home to the attraction, as well as the entertainers who have appeared there.  Many research materials are housed in the Carnegie for historians seeking to know more about the Mitchell area, as well as genealogists looking for information on their families.

Hours are Monday through Saturday, 1-5 pm. Special tours and times may be scheduled by calling 605-996-3209 or email Pam@mitchellcarnegie.com. Check out our website www.mitchellcarnegie.com or find us on Facebook.

Oscar Howe’s “Sun and Rain Clouds Over Hills” dome mural at Carnegie Resource Center

At the corner of West Third Avenue and Rowley Street in Mitchell, South Dakota is a beautiful quartzite building.  This 109-year old building once housed generations of knowledge and now preserves the memorabilia of the Corn Palace and the history and genealogy of the Mitchell area.

The handsome quartzite rock structure – only one of three such buildings left in Mitchell – dates from 1903 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie gave the City of Mitchell $12,000 for a library.  Mitchell’s prominent contractor, A. J. Kings built it and his tools and toolbox are displayed at the Carnegie Resource Center (CRC).  Also on display is a detailed four – foot to-scale model of the 1892 (the first) Corn Palace built by the grandson of A. J. Kings.

The huge dome of the CRC is adorned on its interior by the mural “Sun and Rain Clouds Over Hills”, by Oscar Howe, Yanktonai Sioux artist, who painted the mural in 1940 as a WPA project.  From 1948 through 1971, Howe designed the mural panels for the Corn Palace.  His original tempera or casein drawings can be seen at the CRC, the Dakota Discovery Museum, and in the Mitchell City Council Chambers.

In addition to the extensive print and photographic research material the CRC houses the Clyde and Mary Goin Corn Palace Collection that depicts the history of Mitchell’s three Corn Palaces.  Signed glossy photos by many of the famous performers at the Corn Palace, among them Bob Hope and Red Skelton, are displayed along with countless items of Corn Palace memorabilia.

History and genealogy researchers will find the Carnegie Resource Center (CRC) a treasure trove of information about and photographs of families, businesses, and happenings in the area from Mitchell’s beginning along the James River as Firesteel in 1879.  The all-volunteer staff welcomes visitors and will assist with researching collections of obituaries, city directories, and articles and photos in the many files.  Mitchell’s school alumni are encouraged to schedule reunion programs at the CRC.  Visitors can view diplomas, yearbooks, photos, and newspaper articles pertaining to the history of Mitchell’s public and parochial schools.

Organizations and families can also schedule social events and meetings at the CRC.  Books , monographs, historic original postcards, CDs, and DVDs are available for purchase. Admission is free!