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Mitchell to replace shattered glass panels atop Corn Palace balcony

Look out below. Two glass panels on Mitchell's Corn Palace balcony will be replaced this spring after shattering in place Wednesday morning due to excessive movement. The two panels, which enclose the balcony on the west side of the city's signat...

Glass panels on the Corn Palace balcony shattered Wednesday and will be replaced when the weather warms up in the spring. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Glass panels on the Corn Palace balcony shattered Wednesday and will be replaced when the weather warms up in the spring. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Look out below.

Two glass panels on Mitchell's Corn Palace balcony will be replaced this spring after shattering in place Wednesday morning due to excessive movement.

The two panels, which enclose the balcony on the west side of the city's signature tourist attraction, were added to the Corn Palace during a $4.7 million renovation completed in late 2015 to allow visitors a chance to overlook Mitchell's historic Main Street. While the glass shattered in place, minimal amounts of remnants may have fallen onto the sidewalk below when the panels were removed, but no one was in harm's way during the removal.

Deputy Public Works Director Terry Johnson said the panels were shattered as a result of excess water freezing and thawing below the panels, which caused the glass to move up and down repeatedly. The panels weren't shattered, however, for another reason some residents speculated.

"It wasn't shot out like we had heard," Johnson joked.

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The balcony is closed for the winter season, and it will remain closed until the panels are replaced when the weather is warmer. Johnson said the panels will need to be installed in warm weather to allow the city to use an adhesive needed to position the glass.

"They ordered the glass today, so once they get the glass in and the temperature is up and running, we should be ready to go," Johnson said.

Cost estimates weren't yet determined Thursday, but Johnson said the replacement project is already underway.

City officials are currently working with glass installers, who are working with suppliers, and Johnson said the glass could return to the balcony in approximately one month. And, Johnson said, installers will replace the seal to deter future incidents.

"Once we get the new pieces of glass in place, we're going to remove the rubber seal and then we're going to re-caulk the bottom edge, so it doesn't let water down in the channel," Johnson said.

And fortunately for the city, Johnson said this is the first notable issue with the Corn Palace since the major renovation was completed in late 2015.

The major renovation included the installation of new domes and turrets atop the building, giving the Palace its regal appearance, as well as three enlarged corn murals, a new sign welcoming visitors, a second floor art gallery and a refurbished lobby area.

Although the project hit more than its fair share of snags along the way - with the installation of the domes being delayed for months and the need for 78 change orders throughout the course of the project - it took more than one year for the building's new features to need repairs.

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Workers inspect glass panels on the Corn Palace balcony on Thursday morning. Two panels shattered and had to be removed on Wednesday. The balcony is currently closed due to cold weather, and will be opened when the panels are replaced in the spring. (Evan Hendershot / Republic)
Workers inspect glass panels on the Corn Palace balcony on Thursday morning. Two panels shattered and had to be removed on Wednesday. The balcony is currently closed due to cold weather, and will be opened when the panels are replaced in the spring. (Evan Hendershot / Republic)

Related Topics: CORN PALACE
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