In May 2020 a street clock called Benton’s Jewelers was removed from its location, packed and sent for restoration.
The clock at 3216 NE 45th Street was located east of the University Village shopping center and east of the five-way Union Bay Place NE intersection. The clock had originally been on the sidewalk in front of Benton’s Jewelers on University Way NE, and moved with the company to the Union Bay Place location in 1986. This was the only remaining street clock originally associated with a jewelry store in northeast Seattle.
In May 2020 the Benton’s Jewelers street clock was removed by a professional clock restoration service. The clock-servicing company will give the Benton’s Jewelers clock a needed rehabilitation and will bring the clock back into to working order again.
The Benton’s Jewelers clock was removed for safety reasons because the clock is now in a construction zone. The new owners of the clock received approval from the Seattle Landmarks Board to store the clock and bring it back to its location when construction of a new building on the site is completed.
The journey of the Benton’s Jewelers street clock represents the changes in the Seattle business environment over the past one hundred years. In the 1920s street clocks were a signal of jewelry stores which also did watch repair, most prominently in downtown Seattle.
Business pressures as well as changes in the built environment caused Seattle street clocks to move from one location to another along with the owners, then fall into disuse when businesses closed. Benton’s Jewelers closed in 2008, just short of the hundredth anniversary of the company. The Benton family retained ownership of the clock until purchase of it by the company which is redeveloping the entire block just east of Union Bay Place NE.
The Benton’s Jewelers street clock is in a block of now-demolished small buildings, including a beloved Baskin-Robbins ice cream store at the point of the triangular-shaped block at the intersection of Union Bay Place NE. The new owner of the block will build a type of business new to the neighborhood, a large senior-care residence.
Since Seattle street clocks are protected under a historic landmarking ordinance, the owner applied to the Seattle Landmarks Board for approval to remove, restore, and re-set the Benton’s Jewelers clock in place when the new building is finished in the year 2022.
Part of the historic landmarking ordinance for Seattle’s street clocks is the requirement that clocks be placed in public view. At the new senior residence at Union Bay Place NE, there are plans to set the street clock in the outdoor courtyard entryway of the building.