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New sign for Powell Hall officially debuts Monday

By Tom Weber, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Powell Symphony Hall has been looking a little more like the Fox Theatre lately, now that a giant marquee has been installed. KWMU has learned the Powell's new sign will be officially unveiled Monday morning.

Visitors to Grand Center usually have no problem seeing the sign for the Fox Theatre, especially when it's lit at night. But for years Powell Hall has been a much less obviously labeled landmark.

"Believe it or not it's hard to find the name Powell Hall, noted symphony president Randy Adams. "It's chiseled in stone way up at the top near the roof.

The old St. Louis Theatre was bought in the 1960's and became Powell Hall after renovations. The sign on the top (circa 1960's) shows the second 'St. Louis' sign on the building. The new Powell Hall sign (directly above) is a replica of the original 'St. Louis' sign, which is not pictured here. (photos from SLSO & KWMU)

"But once you see [the new sign], you'll think it was there all along.

The cost of the sign, about $176,000, was covered by donations that Grand Center, Inc. solicited from the Taylor family and the Centene Corporation. The Taylor family is well known to the symphony community after their $40 million donation a few years ago as part of a challenge to the orchestra to raise its own $40 million.

The new sign, which has already been installed, will actually be the third big marquee for the building. Powell Hall was originally known as the St. Louis Theatre when it opened in 1925 until it closed for renovations in the 1960's. During those years with its original name, two different signs reading ST. LOUIS scaled the side of the building, according to Peg Weathers, Grand Center's executive vice-president.

The first sign was replaced by a second, larger sign that lasted into the 60's. The new Powell Hall sign is actually a replica of that first, smaller sign, Weathers added.