Grand farewell – By Joe Morris – Staff writer

Some nights, 800 people would pack in, spilling over the balcony and writhing for dance-floor space. Parades of traffic-stopping drag queens trailed after stripper troupes to the stage.

Then, there?d be a drug raid.

Charleston had never seen anything like the Grand Palace, and probably won?t again.

Demolition of the defunct nightclub at 617 Brooks St., long Charleston?s biggest gay bar, begins today, with crews from Star Corp. of Sissonville shoveling out asbestos. West Virginia Demolition?s wrecking ball arrives Wednesday, and a week later there should be nothing left.

The Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority took over the 8,000-square-foot building last month from longtime owner Hershel Layne, invoking eminent domain. The authority owns property to either side and plans to turn the Palace site into a parking lot, said Joe Lynch, the executive director.