Kern’s Department Store

Even in the thick of the Depression, which slammed Detroit particularly hard, city residents weren’t about to allow the grim economy to stifle the Christmas spirit, as witnessed by these hordes of holiday shoppers crammed onto the main floor of Kern’s Department Store, at Woodward and Gratiot, where the Compuware Corp. now stands


Published:

1933

Even in the thick of the Depression, which slammed Detroit particularly hard, city residents weren’t about to allow the grim economy to stifle the Christmas spirit, as witnessed by these hordes of holiday shoppers crammed onto the main floor of Kern’s Department Store, at Woodward and Gratiot, where the Compuware Corp. now stands. The emporium was marked by exquisite touches, such as marble floors, mahogany counters, and soaring ceilings. Kern’s, founded in 1883 by German immigrant Ernst Kern, was originally on St. Antoine, and later moved to Randolph Street. The retailer continued to enlarge, and finally ended up at its Woodward location, which saw several building expansions throughout the years, the last of which was a 10-story addition in 1929. When Kern died in 1901, his sons Otto and Ernst Jr. ran the burgeoning company. Both brothers lived in the city’s elegant Boston-Edison district — Ernst on Edison Street and Otto on Boston Boulevard. Otto’s sons also became involved in management. Kern’s remained a third-generation family business until 1957, when it was sold to the Buffalo, N.Y.-based Sattler’s Inc. However, management changes and business problems led to the closing of Kern’s on Dec. 23, 1959. Although the building was razed in the 1960s, one part of Kern’s was salvaged, its famous clock, which was a downtown icon. Scores of Detroiters were heard to say, “I’ll meet you under the Kern’s clock.” The landmark timepiece, which was refurbished by Compuware, stands at Woodward and Gratiot, a constant reminder of Detroit’s retailing past.

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

The Way It Was

Aretha Franklin, 1980

An Hour with ... Carmen Harlan

Broadcast journalist and founder of the Carmen Harlan Collection

God-Given Talent

A local choir sings its way to live television

The Sincere Storyteller

Broadway fans will soon learn, playwright Dominique Morisseau’s work is unapologetically Detroit

Do Good

The Greater Detroit Philanthropy Awards are back with eight new recipients
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Best Dressed 2018
    Pulling back the curtain on this year’s selection of the region’s most stylish denizens
  2. Keeping Up with Sheefy McFly
    The multitalented visual artist and musician is ubiquitous in the Motor City
  3. Gathering Spot
    Eastern Market restaurant finds its groove after a rocky beginning
  4. Excellence in Care: Beaumont Health
    Hour Detroit presented Beaumont Health with an Excellence in Care Award for this extraordinary...
  5. Food Recipe: Barbecue Mac & Cheese
    Vast Kitchen and Bar executive chef, Jordan Gillis, upgrades the comfort staple
  6. Sanctuary for the Senses
    Castalia in Midtown offers a cocktail experience unlike any other
  7. Excellence in Care: St. Joseph Mercy Health
    Hour Detroit presented St. Joseph Mercy Health with an Excellence in Care Award for this...
  8. Deeply Rooted
    Influenced by their ancestors, Native American artists celebrate indigenous culture through...
  9. God-Given Talent
    A local choir sings its way to live television
  10. The Sincere Storyteller
    Broadway fans will soon learn, playwright Dominique Morisseau’s work is unapologetically Detroit