St. Paul's red '1st' not lit for now

The 1st National sign lit up in St. Paul.
The First National Bank sign in St. Paul, Minn. lit up at night. It has been a feature of the St. Paul skyline since the 1930s.
Courtesy Scott Amundson

The 50-foot-tall flashing red "1st" sign atop a historic bank tower in St. Paul has gone dark after new owners shut it off last week.

Madison Equities bought the First National Bank building in November.

Vice president Scott Goltz said winter storms damaged the fragile neon lighting beyond repair.

An energy conservation project with Xcel Energy will include an upgrade for the sign to LED lights.

"Neon-to-LED actually will probably shine brighter in the midnight skies," Goltz said. "It will be polished up and it will look better than ever.

"That is the sign of St. Paul. The last thing we want to do is have that thing down. But unfortunately right now, we can't rush into anything and we want to make sure we do it right the first time."

The First National Bank Building was finished in 1931. The red "1st" blinked on top for decades, although it was dark during much of the 1970s.

Madison Equities hopes to have the landmark lit again by this fall.

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