Town officials say that, if the illuminated sign on the front of Lord's Department Store is designated a historic landmark, that will give it demolition protection going forward.
The downtown anchor store will close on Feb. 28 after 73 years in business. It was sold to Salvatore Capital Partners in December.
At last week's meeting of the Downtown Study Committee, Assistant Town Administrator Kristine Trierweiler said the town is working with Salvatore in an effort to keep the sign on the building.
The town would own the sign which would remain on the front of the building (and would likely be raised to a higher elevation on the building) at the corner of Main and South Streets. Town officials have suggested re-naming the building to "Lord's Corner," "Lord's Block," or "Lord's Shops" and incorporating the old sign into the new name.
The Kelly family was working with the Medfield Historical Society to assume the sign but it is too big for the small Historical Society building at 6 Pleasant Street.
If the town assumes ownership of the sign, the town (perhaps with the help of a "Friends of..." group) would be responsible for liability insurance, utility costs, and maintenance of the sign.
The cost of replacing the light bulbs in the circa 1960s neon sign can be costly but Trierweiler said there may be a way to make the sign more energy efficient.
At its meeting on Tuesday, the Medfield Historical Society discussed the landmark designation and said it would review similar bylaws in other towns and consult with town counsel on the proper way to effect the designation.
"If we decide it should have landmark status, it would have to be voted at town meeting," said Historical Commission co-Chair Dan Bibel.