The Corn Place committee hired architect W.E. Loft to create the plans for the first corn palace structure. His original plan called for a building 58 feet by 58 feet to be built at the northwest corner of Fifth and Jackson Streets. However, planners soon decided to enlarge the building to 100 feet by 100 feet. It was again enlarged to include the Goldie Roller Rink. The final size of the corn palace encompassed more than 18,000 square feet of floor space.
The budget increased, too. Originally, the budget was just $5,000. However, it was soon clear that this would not be enough, and a finance committee was appointed to raise a total of $25,000. The work on the palace could then begin.
The second corn palace, built the next year in 1888, was even more splendid than the first. It was built at a new site on the northeast corner of Sixth and Pierce. There was a huge main tower and several smaller towers, and every square inch of the exterior was covered with grain. The only wood showing was on the flagpoles. Inside there was a roomy courtyard surrounded by display galleries. In the courtyard people could enjoy three daily concerts played by the famous Elgin Band from Elgin, Illinois.
In order to further advertise Sioux City as the Corn Palace City, officials sponsored a special train "the Corn Palace Train" to make a tour of the eastern seaboard. The train was decorated much like the palaces themselves. It left Sioux City in the spring of 1889 with 135 good-will passengers. A band was on board to play rousing tunes along the way and help attract attention. The cost of the trip, including fares, decorations and everything else was about $20,000, paid for by businessmen of Sioux City. They all considered it a good investment.
The biggest palace yet, the 1890 Corn Palace featured a 200-foot main tower and six 100-foot towers. A huge dome, built as part of the largest tower, formed a giant globe with various countries mapped with grains of corn. Of course, Iowa faced front and center with Sioux City most prominently displayed.One of the inside highlights, according to the Sioux City Journal, was a miniature valley, "and from far distant mountains clothed in pines came a stream of water, leaping over rocks, winding across a meadow, and falling into a lake below where palmettos were growing." The palace also had an auditorium that seated 1,200 people.