The G.A.R. Hall (Grand Army of the Republic)
A Brief History
Union Veterans of the Civil War built our mid-Victorian Italianate Style Grand Army of the Republic Hall in 1887 for a cost of $980 and met here until 1924. From then until 1999 the G.A.R. Hall was used and faithfully maintained by the Woman’s Relief Corps of the G.A.R. Declining membership of the Corp led to the deeding of the hall to Historic Yankton, Inc. in 1997. The hall was then sold to Yankton Area Arts (YAA) in 1999 for $1.00. YAA accepted the responsibility of both preserving this historic landmark and creating a new home for the arts in our community. The hall has been renovated to include an art gallery and meeting space, an office, an art studio, and kitchen. All mechanical systems have been replaced; all surfaces, both interior and exterior refinished; handicap accessibility has been added. Volunteers from the Federal Prison Camp have done the majority of the work. Without their work, dedication to detail, and skill, this renovation would have been impossible.
Civil War Cannon
The cannon that stands sentinel on the front lawn of the G.A.R. Hall dates from 1862, Fort Pitt, PA. No. 33. It weighs 2,515 lbs. and carries the proof initials of J.R.F. It is definitely heavy artillery for the period probably used for bombarding fortifications. The cannon now houses a time capsule with a granite stone commemorating the event donated by Luken Memorial, Inc. It was one of two cannons displayed, the second has been fully restored and can be seen at the Yankton County Historical Museum.
The G.A.R. Hall Art Gallery
The gallery now features changing exhibits that vary from world-famous artists to both professional and amateur regional artists to local children. A wide variety of events are also scheduled. The gallery provides a beautiful setting for meetings, receptions, and parties hosted by YAA. The classroom in the lower level offers artists a place for classes, informal meetings, and solitary creativity. The kitchen is fully equipped with attractive table settings to accommodate elegant dinners and receptions in the gallery.
In addition, The Gallery has acquired, through gifts, an interesting collection of historical antique furnishings. In 1877 a trial was held in the Dakota Territorial Courthouse (across the lot from the G.A.R. Hall) for the murder of William Butler Hickock (Wild Bill). Jack McCall was tried, convicted, and sentenced to be ‘hanged by the neck until dead.’ The gallows and hanging were supposedly done behind the Territorial Courthouse. McCalls body was buried on the grounds of the Human Services Center near the Southeast corner. In later years the body was exhumed and relocated somewhere in Yankton in an unmarked grave.
A table that was used in McCall’s trial (he may well have been seated at this table) has been faithfully restored to its original condition and is on display in Gallery. The remarkable thing is that all of the original brass hardware was still intact. Also in the collection, is a desk with matching hardware from the Territorial Courthouse from the same time period.
We welcome you to visit our gallery.
We are open weekdays from 1:00 –5:00 PM
Saturdays from 1:00-3:00 PM.
Tour groups and buses are welcome with advance notice.
Our telephone number is 605-665-9754.
Yankton Area Arts Association
508 Douglas Ave.