Manning's Cafeteria/Ballard Denny's

Seattle

NEWS UPDATE

Goodbye Googie
The Manning's/Denny's Building was demolished in the early morning hours on June 24, 2008. The Benaroya Companies obtained a demolition permit (issued in one day) from the City of Seattle on June 19th.

The death knell sounded for Seattle's best remaining example of a Googie style restaurant building when the Landmarks Preservation Board voted to place no controls on the Manning's/Denny's Building at its public meeting on May 21, 2008. This paved the way for the building to be demolished even though its designation as a City of Seattle Landmark stands.

The Manning's Story
The Manning’s Cafeteria Building in Ballard stands as one of the last surviving examples of Googie style restaurants in Seattle. This unique structure with its swoopy roofline has greeted residents and visitors to Ballard as a gateway structure since it was constructed in 1964. The Ballard Manning’s operated from 1964 to 1983, serving good food at affordable prices and offering a community gathering place for neighborhood regulars. Threatened by demolition in 1983 after Manning’s closed, the community galvanized and saved the building. After renovation, it reopened as a Denny’s in 1984 and continued serving the community until it closed its doors in September 2007. The building currently faces the wrecking ball. Plans for the site (proposed by Rhapsody Partners) include an eight-story, 261 unit, mixed-used, retail/condo development anchored by a Rite-Aid at the corner.

The Manning’s chain was one of Seattle’s longest running businesses (founded in 1908 in Pike Place Market) and its reach and influence later stretched all along the West coast. Serving as Ballard’s most visible and highly traveled commercial intersection, NW Market Street and 15th Avenue NW was the perfect location for a Manning’s—the largest among its Seattle restaurants. Today, the building serves an even more prominent and significant role given the changes in physical context. The Manning’s Cafeteria Building is easily one of the most recognizable buildings in Ballard. Due to its roof form and prominence in spatial location on the northwest corner of a major intersection in the neighborhood, it is an easily identifiable visual feature in Ballard and contributes to the identity of the community.

The Manning’s Cafeteria Building, designed by Clarence Mayhew, a well-regarded Bay Area architect, embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style and period. Googie style restaurants were once found throughout the country. Built during the post-war era of optimism, Googie style coffeshops and diners were designed for the masses and were part of a community’s fabric of everyday life. Their openness in design welcomed all to come in and dine. The Manning’s Cafeteria Building is the best remaining example of a Googie style restaurant in Seattle.

Project proponents submitted a landmark nomination for review and consideration by the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB), anticipating that the LPB would not nominate the building. To the developer's surprise, at its January 2, 2008 hearing, the Board voted (8 to 1) to nominate the Manning’s Cafeteria Building. The Board heard public comments supporting the nomination and received numerous letters of support prior to the meeting. Docomomo WEWA was among these supporters. The LPB voted 6 to 3 to designate the building as a City of Seattle Landmark at its February 20, 2008 public meeting. The property owner, Benaroya Companies, filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court, challenging the designation and the validity of the Landmarks Ordinance itself.

Docomomo WEWA worked with Save Manning's--a group of active citizens, Ballard residents, architects, and preservationists, to save the Manning’s Cafeteria Building from demolition. The group advocated for re-use and rehabilitation of the building while allowing for development of the adjacent parcels.

For more information about the significance of Manning's, Googie architecture, and architect Clarence Mayhew, download this PDF to read the report submitted to the Landmarks Preservation Board by architectural historian Alan Michelson. Michelson Report (745KB)

Press coverage of this issue has been extensive. Below are links to some media coverage.

Preservation Magazine
Gaga Over Googie, May/June 2008

Q13 Fox News
January 31, 2008
February 19, 2008

Crosscut
June 26, 2007
July 11, 2007
September 17, 2007
January 3, 2008
January 6, 2008
January 17, 2008
February 4, 2008
February 20, 2008
March 13, 2008
March 19, 2008
March 25, 2008
May 20, 2008
May 21, 2008
June 24, 2008
June 25, 2008

Ballard News-Tribune
June 18, 2007
July 10, 2007
October 9, 2007
January 7, 2008
January 15, 2008
February 4, 2008
February 25, 2008
March 20, 2008
March 25, 2008
June 30, 2008

Seattle Times
January 4, 2008
January 6, 2008
January 12, 2008
February 3, 2008
February 21, 2008
February 22, 2008
May 22, 2008
June 20, 2008

Los Angeles Times
January 13, 2008

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
January 3, 2008
January 16, 2008
January 31, 2008
February 20, 2008
February 21, 2008
February 25, 2008
March 13, 2008
May 22, 2008
June 20, 2008

myballard.com
Numerous postings in this Ballard blog

Newsweek
February 28, 2008

1964. Source: Puget Sound Regional Archives
1964. Interior view. Source: Collection of Eugenia Woo
2007. South and east facades. Source: Eugenia Woo
2007. North facade. Source: Eugenia Woo
ca. 1920. Manning\'s coffee roasting plant. Source: MOHAI
1983. Manning\'s original exterior paint scheme. Source: Winnie Young, former GM of Mannings
1964. Source: Puget Sound Regional Archives