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.