August Schell Agrees To Buy Grain Belt Sign
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – After being dark for nearly 20 years, the iconic Grain Belt beer sign on Minneapolis’ Nicollet Island may soon shine again.
On Wednesday, the New Ulm-based August Schell Brewing Company, which acquired Grain Belt in 2002, announced that it had reached an agreement to buy the 40-foot-tall sign, and that it was in discussions about how to light it up once again.
Ted Marti, the president of Schell Brewing and a fifth-generation descendant of the brewery’s founder, said that the company understands the importance of preserving heritage.
“The fact that the sign has sort of been dead for a number of years, I think people will really be excited to see it lit,” Marti said.
As part of the purchase agreement, Schell Brewing said it would buy the sign, as well as the land it stands on. If it is indeed possible to relight the landmark – which originally had 800 feet of neon tubing and 1,100 incandescent lamps – the company would thendonate the sign to the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, and work with them to preserve it.
The goal, the brewing company said, is to once again make the landmark “the best-known lit sign” in the city.
The porcelain-faced sign was constructed in 1941, and originally stood atop the now-demolished Marigold Ballroom. Nine years later, in 1950, it was relocated to Nicollet Island.
Grain Belt’s history goes back to the late 1800s, when the Minneapolis Brewing and Malting Company was formed.
Schell Brewing said that ever since it acquired Grain Belt it has been in discussions about preserving the sign.
The closing on the purchase is expected later this year.
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