Pioneer Hall was built in 1886 for the first Iowa State Fair at its permanent location. Of the 67 buildings constructed for that Fair, only Pioneer Hall remains. It was originally a poultry building, then an employees’ dormitory and a storage facility.
With help from Farm Bureau, Pioneer Hall was renovated and re-opened in 1996 after the replacement of the foundation and footings. It now houses antique displays, dulcimer music and a variety of craft displays. Fairgoers can watch the furniture maker and blacksmith ply their trades, or see basket makers weave reeds.
Part of the Richard L. Easter Museum Complex, improvements are still needed to ensure its continued success. In 2017, routine maintenance was done on the historic structure to keep it functional. Updates included replacing windows on the southeast corner of the building and installing additional support for the 130 year old iconic dome.
The process of renovating the building’s entire exterior started in 2018. The deteriorated wood siding was removed and replaced to resemble the original construction. Missing building components were restored while the entire exterior was primed and painted. The project included the removal or if possible, restoration of existing window sashes. Some windows were repairable while others were rebuilt to match current size, material and profile. Windows were reglazed using the current glass, supplementing new ones if panes were broken or missing. The final side of the building was finished in 2022.