The Grand to Unveil 105 Year Old Historic Sign

Joe Nester - Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Historic Sign to be Unveiled at The Grand on Main


On Thursday, January 17, 2019, @ 6:30 PM, at 1621 Main Street, the original “Grand Theatre” sign will be revealed to the public for the first time in 105 years. The reveal will be part of The Grand on Main first anniversary celebration.

The sign, lying in the dark and partially covered by dirt and debris, was discovered by workman during renovations of the circa 1866, Robinson Building. The sign was found underneath the floor and most likely had been placed there in 1914 when the Vaudeville style theatre closed its doors after being in operation between 1909 & 1914.

“It was an exciting find.” Stated Greg Middleton, Developer for the project. “The old sign became our inspiration for naming the new restaurant and boutique bowling venue, The Grand on Main. The sign provides a window into the past where entertainment and culture were a part of Columbia’s Main Street.” Said Middleton.

Carolina Conservation in Irmo was chosen for the sign restoration project with a goal of preserving as much of the original structure and character as possible. Ben Umberger, managing Partner, for Carolina conservation stated, “Conservation is all about stabilizing and preserving items with historical and cultural value for future generations. We had the privilege during the restoration of consulting with conservators from the H. L. Hunley submarine project in Charleston who helped with ideas for stabilization of the rusted components.”

A Grand Old Sign

Joe Nester - Sunday, May 06, 2018

For 104 years The Grand Theatre sign lay silently in darkness, covered by dirt under the main floor of the Robinson building. In 2017, during the demolition phase of the Robinson building rehabilitation, workers discovered the sign. The Robinson building, at 1621 Main Street is the new home of The Grand on Main, a fine restaurant, bar, and boutique bowling venue in Downtown Columbia. The old sign had presumably been placed in its resting spot when the theater ceased operations in 1914. The Robinson building, one of the oldest structures on Main Street, was constructed in 1866, just one year after the end of the Civil War.


When the sign was found it was instantly recognized for its historic significance. The construction crew immediately took steps to protect it from further damage and deterioration. Carolina Restoration, hired In December 2017, took the lead in conservation efforts to stabilize and prepare the sign for eventual display within The Grand on Main.


Managing Partner for Carolina Conservation, Ben Umberger, recently had some exciting news about the conservation effort. Ben said, “We recently consulted with the conservators on the Hunley submarine project in Charleston in coming up with some stabilization ideas for the rusted components. The Hunley team is world-class and excited about helping out on this project.”


The owners and developers of The Grand on Main are looking forward to the completion of the sign restoration and its display within the restored Robinson building. The restoration of this historic sign will offer an opportunity to view an authentic relic from the entertainment industry during the turn of the century Main Street.

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