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Time Not Up Yet for Historic Downtown Covington Clock

The clock above the entrance to the Madison Event Center at Seventh Street and Madison Avenue in downtown Covington once displayed the time for shoppers who frequented the building when it was a Woolworth's store.

The clock doesn't tick any longer.

But it won't be covered up, at least not yet, in a redesign of the entrance by owner The Salyers Group.

The city's urban design review board rejected a proposal to place a covering over the clock, which has displayed the time of 7:55 for more than a year at least. 

Clock at the entrance to the Madison Event Center as seen on Monday (RCN)

And though the clock no longer ticks, its placement on the corner entrance was noted in a 1941 article in The Kentucky Post as one of the highlights for the soon-to-be-constructed building.

"Present plans, (Woolworth's manager H.L.) Woody said, call for a corner entrance over which there will be a large electric clock. There will be three entrances on Madison Avenue and one on Seventh Street. Large show windows will front both streets," the paper reported at the time.

Rendering of Woolworth's building, now the Madison Event Center, as published in The Kentucky Post in 1942 (provided)

But the volume of entrances to the building is what concerns the property's owner, and is at least in part the motivation behind plans to spruce up the facade.

"The clock is not a functioning clock and the owner is trying to accentuate this as an entrance," said Hub + Weber architect Jim Guthrie, who represented the owner at Monday afternoon's UDRB meeting.

Plans calling for a replacement of the aged awnings in favor of a glass canopy were approved. Similar features adorn the Hotel Covington, itself a former department store, which was also co-developed by The Salyers Group.

Rendering of updated Madison Event Center facade with awnings removed and clock covered (provided)

"We're not removing the clock, we're just going to put something over top of it," Guthrie said. It is unknown whether the current non-working clock is original to the building, but it does read The Madison on its face, suggesting that it has at least been updated.

Members of the UDRB noted their appreciation for the historic character of the clock and voted 5-1, with Chris Robinson dissenting, against its covering.

Though city staff recommended disapproval of both proposals for the building, the UDRB voted unanimously to permit the glass canopy.

The property owner can appeal the decision related to the clock to the city commission if it chooses.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Top photo: Madison Event Center (RCN)

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