Replica of historic Monroe sign returns downtown

From the walton tribune

Andy Reynolds’ drawing of the new MONROE sign which pays homeage to previous sign that was destroyed in 1993. Courtesy Meredith Malcom

At its May meeting, the Monroe City Council approved a proposal to install a lighted sign in the small city park next to the former City Hall building at the corner of Broad and Church streets. 

The sign, which will spell out “MONROE” vertically, is a replica of the former sign once atop the Wayne Street water tower.

Meredith Malcom, vice chairman of the Monroe Downtown Development Authority, presented information on the new sign.

“I am very happy to reveal a rendering of our MONROE Water Tower Sign Monument project designed by local steel fabricator and engineering firm, IMMEC, Inc. and drawn for us by lifetime resident and downtown business owner, Andy Reynolds,” Malcom said. “This idea was proposed by various members of our Downtown Development Authority Board among many other members of our community who still affectionately recall the mark the original sign left on the city.”

Malcom said the nearly 35-foot replica will pay homage to what was a longtime source of pride for the community before meeting its untimely fate during the historic and destructive downburst of 1993. 

The original water tower sign was first suggested by one of Monroe’s Councilmen to then-Mayor Caldwell McGarity in the mid-1950s. 

It was intended to serve as a beacon to the sea of motorists passing through the city daily. 

The sign, featuring MONROE spelled out vertically in three-foot-tall neon letters facing Atlanta to the west and Athens to the east, provided an air of “big city” importance to our otherwise modest little town in north Georgia. 

Though there have been calls through the years to rebuild the sign atop the water tower, the crown of the tower is currently occupied by many pieces of communication equipment. This location is unfortunately no longer feasible or safe enough for erecting a new sign. 

Instead, DDA, local businesses and other community and civic leaders set a goal to revive the community spirit originally evoked by the MONROE sign in another way. 

This sign project will be an addition to the center of an already-completed placemaking initiative, Hammock Park, which has served as a communal gathering space outside the Monroe Museum since opening in 2018. 

The addition of the replica MONROE sign, nearly identical to the original in its details,  down to the three-foot-tall measurement of each letter, will be updated with energy-efficient LED lighting. It will enhance the historic storytelling component of the adjacent museum, while also increasing the nighttime usability of the existing park space. 

The sign will sit on top of a 10-foot historic brick base that will match the historic brick used throughout our new town green and in various other areas of downtown Monroe. 

Malcom said this project represents an innovative and creative means of connecting our vibrant, present-day community with an eccentric piece of our history.  She said the monument site is ready to be cleared with almost all of the labor, equipment and supervision for the project committed by IMMEC, Inc; and the City Council approved this project at its May 2024 meeting.  

“Our city boasts a brighter outlook today than ever before, and there is no better way to light the path ahead than by the light of the sign that first put Monroe on the map and shone the way to our city’s current economic prosperity,” Malcom said. 

 Bruce Verge of IMMEC, INC and Andy Reynolds and the DDA Board contributed to the effort to bring the Monroe sign back, Malcom said.

Andy Reynolds’ drawing of the new MONROE sign which
pays homeage to previous sign that was destroyed in
Courtesy Meredith Malcom

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