A BRIEF HISTORY
Union veterans of the Civil War built the Grand Army of the Republic Hall in 1887 for a cost of $980. Built in the mid-Victorian Italiante Style, the building served as a meeting place for the Republic until 1924. After that, the Hall was used and faithfully maintained by the Woman's Relief Corps of the Grand Army Republic. Declining membership of the Corps led to the deeding of the hall to Historic Yankton, Inc. in 1997. The hall was then sold to Yankton Area Arts in 1999 for $1.00. YAA accepted the responsibility of preserving this historic landmark and turned it into a new home for the arts in our community, including a gallery space, meeting space/art studio and kitchen.
Throughout the years all mechanical systems have been replaced; all surfaces, both interior and exterior refinished; and handicap accessibility was added. The majority of the work was done by volunteers from the Federal Prison Camp. Without their hard work, dedication to detail, and skill, this renovation would have been impossible. YAA is currently in the works of replacing the original front doors which are becoming inoperable.
The Gallery has acquired, through gifts, an interesting collection of historical items.
In 1877 the trial of Jack McCall for the murder of Wild Bill Hickock was held in the Dakota Territorial Courthouse (next door to the hall). A table used in this trial (perhaps the table that McCall himself was seated at) has been restored and continues to be used in the Gallery.
Also found at the Gallery is a Territorial Courthouse desk, china place settings from the late 1800s and a variety of antique silverware and candleabras.
Civil War Cannon
The cannon that stands sentinel in the front lawn of the G.A.R. Hall dates from 1862, Fort Pitt, PA. It weighs 2,512 lbs. and carries the initials J.R.F as proof of its authenticity. It is definitely heavy artillery for the period; probably used for bombarding fortifications. The cannon now houses a time capsule with a granite stone, donated by Luken Memorial, Inc. commemorating its installation. It was one of two cannons (originally) displayed. The second cannon has been fully restored and can be seen at the Yankton County Historical Museum.
Rent the Hall
The gallery provides a beautiful setting for receptions, parties, and corporate meetings The lower level offers artists a place for classes, informal meetings and solitary creativity. The kitchen is fully equipped with table settings to accommodate dinners and receptions in the gallery.