For years, a piece of Detroit history was missing from its former home.

A sizeable clock that long greeted the constant stream of visitors arriving at the Michigan Central Depot passed at least two decades elsewhere until last week, when an anonymous call lead to its discovery. 

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Now, time is ticking as Ford Motor Co., the site’s new owners, figures out whether the antique plays a role in the planned revival of the legendary landmark.

“One way or another we’ll find a use for it,” said Dave Dubensky, chairman and CEO of Ford Land. “We’re just going to keep the clock in a safe place and ultimately when we finish the renovation we’ll determine how to display it.”

It’s not clear how long the caller, who refused to be identified, had the timepiece before reaching the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn on Friday to report the clock, removed from the site more than 20 years ago,  needed to “go home,” Dubensky said.

After the iconic, towering structure near Michigan Avenue welcomed its last train in 1988, vandals and trespassers stripped the property of many artifacts, including gold-plated chandeliers, copper roofing and other precious fixtures.

Recognizing the significance in retrieving at least one missing artifact from the station,  museum staffers immediately reached Ford, which recently bought the station site amid plans to create a Corktown campus.

Later, the caller texted details about where the clock could be found: at 4470 Lawton, some two miles from the depot, near a crumbling vacant building, bundled in a moving blanket, propped against a blue wall and surrounded by weeds and tires.

The unknown person asked that movers position the piece face-up during transportation to protect the delicate paint, company representatives said.

“It was really a great gesture to reach out to us and return the clock to its rightful home,” Dubensky said. “There was clearly a connection to the building and the clock itself.”

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