The Kern Block is one of Downtown’s quickly forgotten landmarks from the recent past. Today you will find the modern Compuware Building sitting on its site, but from 1966 to 1999 it was a large and mostly empty city park. Unlike most Downtown parks, the pentagon shaped greenspace lacked shade trees, monuments or fountains. At the heart of the Campus Martius area, it perennially failed to attract development.
The park got its name from Kern’s department store which expanded on the block from 1900 until its closing in 1959 and demolition in 1966. This foreshadowed the closing and eventual demolition of the Hudsons department store across Gratiot Avenue. The widely recognized clock on the exterior of Kern’s was saved and rededicated on the site where it can still be seen today. – D.S.