The grand street clock that stands outside our store is almost as old as Johnson Jewelers. You would probably assume we are the original owners, but in fact, we are not. We are the second owners, according to research done by Rob Ketcherside, a self proclaimed street clock enthusiast. He has helped us get a picture of the clock’s origin. The clock always garners interest from customers and community members so here’s a look at this beautiful piece of history.
As far as we know, the clock was made right around the turn of the last century by Joseph Mayer of Mayer Bros. of Seattle. The case was designed by him and cast by the Olympic Foundry. The actual clockworks were built by E. Howard & Company in the Boston area. What’s amazing is that everything is still original except for a few gears which have been remade over the years. However, the clock originally had large round lights that are no longer there. It’s unknown when those were removed or what happened to them.
The clock was first owned by Peter Michael, who also owned a jewelry business. It was installed in 1911 at 1204 2nd Avenue at University Street outside the Pantages theater. City street permit archives give us a timeline of the clock’s movement. The clock was moved with Michael Jeweler to 202 Pike Street by the old Bon Marche in 1917, and then 1422 3rd Ave in 1924, and 223 Pine Street in 1929. This last destination was at the Northwest Mutual Tower, which was newly constructed in 1928. Michael Jewelers was an initial tenant. The clock remained there until the 1940s.
The clock was purchased in the late 1940’s by our founder, JG Johnson, from the Michaels. JG started Johnson Jewelers in 1898 in Rugby, North Dakota and came to Puyallup in 1936. He purchased the clock for somewhere around $300. The clock was in pieces and had been kept in a storage room somewhere in downtown Seattle, for several years before we purchased it. We don’t know the exact year the clock was installed in downtown Puyallup, but it’s first location was 109 S. Meridian. (We are currently at 103 S. Meridian.) We opened our store at that location in the fall of 1948.
Johnson Jewelers then moved to Valley Plaza on Main Street in 1970. The clock came with it. Our store was initially in the strip mall before moving to the round brick building that many of our customers remember. So the clock held two locations within the Valley Plaza. It sure has been moved a lot!
In 1998 we looked to expert Jerry Martin to restore the clock. At that time, we also decided to give it a fresh coat of paint giving it the green, gold and black that you see today. That is also when the base went from having one windowed side to opening it up to all four sides. 30 years later we returned to the downtown Puyallup core at our current location since 2002. Moving the clock is no small feat.
The clock is most definitely a conversation starter. We see many curious people stop, look, and take photos of the clock. We even get people coming in just to ask about it. One aspect people wonder about is how it keeps time. The clock gets wound by hand once a week, every Saturday. Another interesting fact is that you can set the time by turning the hands counter clockwise which certainly comes in handy for daylight savings. There is a sister clock in Anacortes, WA. It is such a special piece of our history for us and the Puyallup community. We hope to keep this clock ticking as long as possible!
Thank you to Rob Ketcherside and Holly O’Brien at the Meeker Mansion for providing information for this blog.