The Marigold Ballroom: Original Site of the Grain Belt Sign

Weird Nicollet Tour, Minneapolis

The Marigold Ballroom: Original Site of the Grain Belt Sign

Minneapolis, Minnesota 55407, United States

Created By: Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District


Near the Corner of Nicollet and West Grant Street

Here at the corner of Nicollet and West Grant Street, once sat the famed Marigold Ballroom. Back in the big band and swing dance era, the Marigold was one of Minneapolis hot spots for nightlife, and thousands flocked to their shows to cut a rug or hang out on the edges of the dance floor, listening to the likes of Woody Herman, the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, or Whoopee John Wilfarht. Built as the Marigold Gardens back in 1919, the ballroom held over five thousand people and had one of the largest stages around.

Among other things, the Marigold was famous for its exterior lighting. Big lit-up slogans would adorn the outside of the building. You might see Giant red neon, or a slogan that said, in huge font, “never grow old dancing at the Marigold.” The most famous sign, however, was surely the massive neon Grain Belt sign that stood atop the squat ballroom building. The sign was 50 feet tall, a huge Grain Belt beer bottle cap that lit up in green and white. From most angles, it dwarfed the building below, and it stood atop the Marigold for nine years, from 1941 to 1950, forming a neon focal point at the end of Nicollet Avenue.

The sign then moved to the banks of the Mississippi river, where it sat on the west side just upstream from downtown for another few years. Finally, the sign moved again to the edge of the Hennepin Avenue bridge, a spot on Nicollet Island where it still stands today. Maintenance for the sign, however, faded when the Minnesota Brewing Company, makers of Grain Belt, was acquired by another brewery, and the expensive neon and electric bulbs went dark for a decade.

City and business leaders tried to restore the famous neon sign in 1986, with then-mayor Don Fraser throwing the switch that lit up the sign. But the neon again proved too expensive, and the sign went dark for another decade until 2017, when it was converted to LED. Today the old sign that once stood on top of the Marigold shines again, lit in brilliant energy-efficient color at the north end of Nicollet and Hennepin Avenues.


This point of interest is part of the tour: Weird Nicollet Tour, Minneapolis


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