World's Tallest Grandfather Clock
The 35' 10" tall grandfather clock in Kewaunee was designed by Richard Kohrt, owner
of Svoboda Industries at the time. Mr. Kohrt was looking for a way to promote his
newly named business as well as a way to attract additional tourists to Kewaunee.
The clock was built in 1976 by Jake Schlies with the help of his son, Rodney, as a gift to
the people of Kewaunee. In 1984, a new bridge was built in Kewaunee and Svoboda
would move its business and the clock to its new Top of the Hill Shop, located on
Highway 42, on the northeast edge of Kewaunee.
Svoboda's closed the shop and the clock stayed behind and was neglected for more than
a decade before the property was sold to the Kewaunee County Sheriff's Department in
2013. The clock would now be need to be relocated or dismantled permanently since
the Sheriff's Department planned on using the building for storage and not public use.
This created a whirlwind of excitement since other cities had interest in taking the clock
out of Kewaunee to be restored and used.
World's Tallest Grandfather Clock at its location on the northeast edge of Kewaunee.
World's Tallest Grandfather Clock at its new location facing the Harbor in Downtown Kewaunee.
Jason Jelinek began a grass root movement using local news outlets and social media to garner attention and support to save a historic piece of Kewaunee, but also a true Americana road side attraction. With full support of Sheriff Matt Joski, and soon after Mayor John Blaha, approval to move the clock to its new home at the corner of Miller Street and Highway 42/Milwaukee Street, at the head of the Anhapee Trail, was unanimously voted for by the city council in March 2013.
The clock was dismantled in June 2013 for restoration. The body, which was mostly made of redwood, was rotten and replaced with marine grade plywood. A new footing was poured and the steel I-beam backbone inside the clock had extra support struts welded in for bolting to the footing. The ornate clock head was restored through the winter, mainly by Dale (Whitey) Vandermoss and his brother Mike Vandermoss, whom recreated some of the large spindles and crowned moldings by hand. While the outside was being repaired, the German made motors of the clock were looked over by Hacker Berkovitz to ensure they were keeping time.
On August 27, 2014, the clock body and head were raised in its current home, downtown Kewaunee, facing the harbor. It would stand alone through the winter of 2014-15. Beginning May 1, 2015, two pavilion roofs were erected off of each backside of the clock. One running south and the other to the west.
On July 30, 2014, at 1 p.m., the clock was officially started and has been keeping perfect time since. As of December 5, 2015, a sound system was donated and chimes, along with music for the seasons, can be heard on the quarter, half, and full hours.
All funding to move and restore the clock was provided by donations from local citizens. A true testament to the attachment locals had with this icon. Over $30,000 was raised and funds continue to support the beautification of the Ahnapee Trail area as well as general maintenance, signage, and electricity. There are many local craftsmen and women, construction companies including Merten's Construction & Concrete, Schlies Construction & Remodeling, Scott's Industrial Coatings, and Northern Sound and Video, government officials and supporters that deserve a great amount of thanks for the volunteer work that was given so graciously! Thank you all so much!
World's Tallest Grandfather Clock Downtown Kewaunee showing the pavilion park area.