Conway leaders look to preserve and protect historical signs

Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 6:47 AM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - In Conway, history is all around you and not just downtown.

City leaders are looking to preserve their past for the future, specifically historical business signs.

However, keeping these signs up to code and as original as possible is getting tougher and more expensive.

As you make your way down Main Street in downtown Conway, it’s hard to miss those flashing neon lights letting you know who’s taking the stage.

Tim McGhee, Executive Director of Theater of the Republic, said they’ve recently begun to explore the idea of replacing a portion of the sign with a digital board.

“It’s a time-consuming process for us plus the letters are from the 1950′s and they’re hard to replace,” he said.

To help preserve history, Conway Planning and Development Director Allison Hardin began working on a proposal to designate historic landmark signs in the city.

She says these signs remind everyone of the locally owned businesses who helped Conway become what it is today.

“We want to be able to preserve those things that help people remember Conway as it was growing,” said Hardin.

Hardin and her team have already begun compiling a list of historical signs, which includes Nye’s Pharmacy off Highway 501, the original Conway National Bank and numerous locally owned business.

“Those types of business have been here and helped Conway grow and we’d like to see if we can help them keep their identity through their signage,” said Hardin.

McGhee knows how iconic the theater sign is to the city and plans to keep the sign completely original. However, he’s also trying to keep up with modern times and believes the digital sign could be a benefit.

“It’d also be good for us to announce things going on downtown or going on in Conway almost like a news bulletin board,” said McGhee.

Both know times are changing and some of the old materials used on these signs aren’t easy to replace.

“I believe in the history of Conway and the signage should stay as historic as it possible, but we are going into new times and have new technology,” said McGhee.

Hardin hope to have the proposal ready in September and thinks the amendment will allow the city to embrace new ideas and technology while still protecting the history.

“We want to upgrade the technology and keep the signs charisma at the same,” said Hardin.

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