Signs of the Times - May 2017 - 24
LEDS + LIGHTING
AN ALL-AROUND 1
From up to 20 miles away visitors can spot the "1st" sign,
a beacon over the St. Paul skyline.
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HIS past St. Patrick's Day, the "1st" sign atop
the First National Bank building in downtown
St. Paul shone a bright green to celebrate the
Irish holiday. But this wasn't always the case.
Newly installed rope LEDs capable of producing just
about any color under the sun had replaced neon tubing
destroyed by a hail and ice storm in the winter of 2015-16.
During the interim the sign was dark for a year, and the
people of St. Paul weren't having it.
Once it went dark, calls flooded in to the building owner,
Scott Goltz of Madison Equities. Goltz was not surprised.
Many people consider the 1st sign, which dates back to
1936, a St. Paul landmark. Indeed, one of the main reasons
the company recently purchased the 32-story Art Deco
building was the distinctive sign. Given the strong response
to its outage, Goltz and partners decided to restore the
1st sign to its former glory - and then some.
The 1st sign is unusual in that there are really three 1st
signs mounted at 60° angles to one another and standing
50 ft. tall. The first step in renovation involved bringing in
an engineering consulting firm to ensure the soundness of
the steel support structure. Then the owners hired S.M.L.
Electrical Inc. (Minneapolis) to dismantle the 4,000 linear
feet of neon and transformers and select the new lighting
system. Hurd Maintenance (North St. Paul, MN) handled
the sanding, priming and coating of the vermillion, vitreous
The stripped porcelain "1st" signface prior to sanding
S.M.L. Electrical workers installing 4,000 ft. of LED
SIGNS OF THE TIMES