New rooftop HERALD sign again ready to glow at night, can parade a rainbow of colors

Watch a time lapse video of the installation of the new sign on the Herald Building

A time lapse video of the removal of the old Herald Building sign and installation of a new one.
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A time lapse video of the removal of the old Herald Building sign and installation of a new one.

The new sign atop the Herald building is again able to illuminate downtown, and will show off its color chops when it glows Viking blue for a special Western Washington University event on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

The 10-foot-tall steel letters – a matching set of H, E, R, A, L, D – were taken down in August while Signs Plus of Bellingham finished making replica aluminum ones with LED lighting to replace the old neon.

On Monday, Sept. 12, workers used a large crane to lift the new letters to the roof and to lower the old ones to the street. The new letters were then attached to the sign’s 40-foot frame on Tuesday and Wednesday, and electricians checked them Thursday and Friday. The programmable LED system will allow the building’s owners to show moving, changing colors across the letters in various patterns.

Plans are to keep the sign red, to mirror traditional neon red, before switching to Viking blue for “Paint B’ham Blue” on Wednesday, a new event for incoming freshmen. Wednesday is the first day of fall quarter classes at Western.

The sign first was installed when the building at Chestnut and North State streets was constructed in 1926. The original sign was lit with incandescent bulbs, but changed to neon four years later.

In 2009, The McClatchy Co., The Bellingham Herald’s parent company, sold the building, including the sign, to restoration-minded developers Bob Hall and David Johnston.

So far, two of the old letters have been sold: An “A” to Argyle Salon, in the Herald Building, and an “E,” which will be modified into an “F,” for the offices of La Fiamma Wood Fire Pizza and Fiamma Burger, also in the building.

Dean Kahn: 360-715-2291