Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Kern's Clock

Popular Detroit landmark, the Kern’s Clock was originally located at the corner of Woodward and Gratiot avenues where it adorned the entrance to the Ernst Kern Company department store in downtown Detroit. Appearing in 1933, the clock was placed above the entrance to the store where it became a landmark for Detroiters who often used it as a meeting place.

Ernst Kern founded The Ernst Kern Dry Good Company in 1883. After finding great success within the downtown area, Kern eventually bought a five-story building at the corner of Gratiot and Woodward, where the store would be located at for the rest of its lifespan. In 1920, the Kern Company acquired the neighboring nine-story Weber Building, and demolished both buildings in 1929 to make a larger, ten-story structure. In 1933, the Kern’s Clock was erected directly above the entrance to the newly finished department store.

In 1957, the Kern’s company was sold to Sattler’s, a chain department store headquartered in Buffalo, New York. Due to poor sales and internal management conflicts, the new owners were forced to officially close their doors on December 23, 1959. In 1966 the building was demolished as a part of Detroit’s urban renewal of downtown, and the clock found its new home in secure storage. In the late 1970s, the Junior League of Detroit led a successful campaign to restore the clock and place it back in its original location. However, in 1998 it was once again removed to avoid the clock being damaged during the demolition of the Hudson’s building.

In November of 2003 after the One Campus Martius building had been completed, the Compuware Corporation reinstalled the famous Kern’s Clock back in its original location at the corner of Woodward and Gratiot where it can be seen today.



Kern's Clock at the corner of Woodward and Gratiot, 1970s - 2008.033.941

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