August Schell Brewing Company, the New Ulm, MN-based makers of Grain Belt beer, have announced an agreement to purchase the iconic Grain Belt Beer sign on Nicollet Island. The brewery will donate the sign to the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and with their help — and the support of a few other entities — plans to restore the sign to turn the lights of one of Minneapolis’ most iconic scenes back on.
“As the stewards to a 154-year old brewery and family business, we understand the importance of preserving heritage. We are honored to have this opportunity to protect and restore such a beloved part of the Minneapolis landscape,” said Ted Marti, President and fifth-generation descendant of brewery founder, August Schell. “Working in concert with the community, our goal is to preserve and relight this important remnant of the city’s industrial and commercial past.”
The porcelain-faced sign, which contains more than 800 feet of neon tubing and 1,100 incandescent lamps, is approximately 50 feet wide and 40 feet tall and has been dark for the past 20 years. Originally constructed in 1941, the sign was originally perched atop the Marigold Ballroom, (now demolished), at 1330 Nicollet Avenue. The sign was relocated to its current home on Nicollet Island in 1950.
“This historic sign is a unique resource and a valuable part of the city’s character,” said Doug Gasek, Executive Director, Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. “We’re looking forward to working with the August Schell Brewing Company to rehabilitate and relight this prominent riverfront landmark, making it accessible for future generations to enjoy.”
Though the sale is not yet final, if it is determined that the sign can indeed be relit, the purchase of the land and sign should be finalized this year.