By Krizelle Solidum
Anyone who lives in town is familiar with the 50-foot-wide by 75-foot-tall clock, originally painted between 1898 and 1900 by Peter Kern, who owned one of the first jewelry shops in Skagway.
It’s now time to repaint the watch face that hovers over Skagway from the rock wall to to the east of downtown. The municipality is seeking bids for the job, with proposals due Aug. 4.
Kern’s turn-of-the-century jewelry business was “a symbol of independent merchants in Skagway,” said Assemblymember Orion Hanson.
Not long after, Herman Kirmse, who was a fellow watchmaker, bought out Kern’s jewelry shop.
“He is most well known for a watch chain made out of 10 large gold nuggets for saloon owner and gambler Pat Renwick,” longtime Skagway historian and journalist Jeff Brady said of Kirmse, who descended from a family of European watchmakers, jewelers and doctors.
Back during the Gold Rush days, business owners placed billboards on the cliff, which is why Kern originally painted the clock.
Since it was painted by Kern, the clock has been repainted twice. The first time, around 1961, by Paul Cyr, Bill Hunz and Dick Hopkins. The second time was around 1982, with the work done by Steven Hanson.
“The paint has aged over the years and needs to be maintained, it’s a part of keeping history intact,” said Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park historian Karl Gurcke.
The municipality’s bid notice, issued July 21, says the work must be completed by Sept. 30, replicating the original colors and design. The project also includes repainting the Moe’s Frontier Bar sign next to the clock on the rock wall at the east end of 4th Avenue.