Looking For The Sign

They’re rehabbing the Dispatch building in downtown Columbus.  The building is fenced off, the windows have been removed, mobile platforms are moving around the structure, and you hear the familiar booms and bangs as workers pull out debris from the interior of the building and hurl it into dumpsters on the ground below.  From the amount of work being done, it looks like the building is being effectively gutted.

Located in the center of the city, just across Third Street from the Ohio Statehouse, and recently added the Columbus Register of Historic Properties, the Dispatch building is an unremarkable five-story structure — except for the sign on the roof.  The sign is a huge, elaborate metal and neon structure, half again as tall as the building itself, that has towered above the downtown core and beamed the name of the Dispatch and its claim to be Ohio’s greatest home newspaper for as long as I’ve lived in Columbus.  The sign is a true Columbus institution and a throwback to earlier days in a city that has really reinvented itself in recent decades.

Of course, things change.  The Dispatch editors and reporters have been moved to a new building about a block away, and the old Dispatch building is going to be made available to new tenants once the rehab work is done.  The city’s Downtown Commission has approved the rehab work, but the filings and applications don’t address what’s going to happen to the sign.  The Downtown Commission application cryptically notes, with respect to the sign, that “resolution as to what will happen to it has not occurred” — which makes it sound like the sign’s future is iffy.

I hope the sign survives.  Downtown Columbus just wouldn’t be the same without it.