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 - The David Whitney Building

Unlikely Sprinter

Cass Tech/U-M graduate Eddie ‘The Midnight Express’ Tolan ran to fame in the 1932 Olympic games.

Read All About It

Detroit Public Library looks back at milestones, and forward into the digital age

The Beat Goes On

Oak Park independent bookstore owners have been keeping the literary faith for more than 30 years

The Way It Was

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
    We asked some far-from-regular guys from metro Detroit to guest star as models for our fashion...
  2. Coming Home
    John Varvatos has opened high-profile boutiques from LA to London, but perhaps no location means...
  3. 2015 Restaurant of the Year
    Torino chef Garrett Lipar’s tasting menus take guests on expertly paced and emotional culinary...
  4. Dining Like Diego
    Local Mexican chefs to take on Frida Kahlo’s recipes as side dish to DIA and MOT events
  5. 2015 Winter Beer Festival Recap
    The cold presented some challenges, but the breweries rose to the occasion
  6. Solid Gold
    Pawn shop turned farmstead-cuisine restaurant feels like home sweet home
  7. Sharing a Passion
    2014 Hatch Detroit winner Sister Pie is all about baking and community building — and taking...
  8. Rochester Tap Room Opens Its Doors
    Serving up 60 Taps with a focus on Michigan beer
  9. Beer (Cheese) Me
    Brown Iron Brewhouse’s Deni Smiljanovski combines two things he loves in this easy,...
  10. Batch Brewing Company Launches Their ‘Feelgood Tap’ Charity Initiative
    Giving back to the community is important to Founder and Head Brewer Stephen Roginson