August Schell Brewing Company is buying the Grain Belt Beer sign on Nicollet Island with the hope of relighting the sign in 2017.
The New Ulm, Minn.-based brewers of Grain Belt beer have finalized the sale of the Minneapolis landmark, which they hope to restore and have named to the National Register of Historic Places. The 75-year-old sign, a regular sight from the Hennepin Avenue bridge, was last lit in the 1990s.
August Schell will work with Minneapolis-based historical consultants Hess, Roise and Company to have the sign preserved. The company previously worked to rehabilitate the old Grain Belt brewery in Northeast Minneapolis and renovate the North Star Blankets sign in the Mill District.
“It’s a gem, a bodacious Minneapolis landmark — and a rare survivor among the once common supersized signs that advertised products and attractions across the United States,” said Charlene Roise, president of Hess, Roise and Company, in a statement.
In 2014, August Schell announced its intention to buy the 50-foot by 40-foot porcelain-faced sign and the land beneath it from the Eastman Family Trust. The landmark was relocated to Nicollet Island in 1950 from the now-demolished Marigold Ballroom on Nicollet Avenue.
The relighting would follow similar efforts to get riverfront signs restored and relit, such as the Pillsbury’s Best Flour sign and the North Star Blankets sign. August Schell hopes to light up the Minneapolis riverfront skyline once again by the summer of 2017.
August Schell, the state’s largest and oldest brewery, bought the Grain Belt brand in 2002. To celebrate the purchase, the brewery is releasing a new brew, dubbed Lock & Dam for the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam, in April.
“The Grain Belt Beer sign both reflects and contributes to the downtown Minneapolis character as a historic industrial and commercial city,” said Ted Marti, August Schell’s president. “As a historic Minnesota brewery, we’re committed to preserving our history and the history of our state.”