Jessop's clock in Horton Plaza
The Jessop’s clock when it was in Horton Plaza. Courtesy of Jessop’s

The iconic Jessop’s clock has moved for the third time in its century-long history — to a permanent home at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.

The clock was commissioned by Joe Jessop in 1905 and stood outside the family’s jewelry store on Fifth Avenue until 1985, when it was moved to Horton Plaza. But the clock was disassembled in 2019 and placed in storage as the downtown plaza declined.

Now the clock will be a central component of a new, permanent exhibition at the history museum.

San Diego architectural firm Tucker Sadler, which designed the new Rady Shell, plans to accommodate the clock’s 22-foot height by building a winding, three-story spiral staircase around it.  

“This is the right time, and we are the right place,” said John Morrell, chair of the museum’s board. “The clock represents an important step in realizing our museum’s future as we look to  our centennial in 2028, and our expertise in the preservation and display of important artifacts will ensure the Jessop’s Clock will be displayed and enjoyed for generations to come.” 

Jim Jessop said his family is “thrilled” about the clock’s new home and looking forward to development of the new permanent exhibition.

“Our number one goal was to make sure the clock  was going to be enjoyed by the public again,” he said. “The fact it will be used as a tool to educate people  about San Diego’s history is icing on the cake.”  

Founded as the San Diego Historical Society in 1928, the museum has been a catalyst for preservation and promotion of the history of the San Diego region and is an affiliate of the national Smithsonian Institution.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.