The My Ballard blog reports that the landmark Manning's/Denny's diner was demolished early this morning. A demolition permit was issued by the city just last week.
The diner was granted city landmark status earlier this year. The Landmarks Board later decided that preserving the building was not economically feasible for the owner, Benaroya, clearing the way for its destruction.
The demolition comes almost exactly a year to the day after Crosscut first reported that the building might have historic significance. It was designed by prominent Bay Area architect Clarence W. Mayhew in 1964 for the Seattle-founded Manning's, a West Coast coffee company and restaurant chain founded at the Pike Place Market 100 years ago.
The diner had been saved from demolition once before, in the mid-1980s, when it was taken over by the Denny's chain. It had become a familiar and much-loved neighborhood feature, and a hang out for old Ballard's senior citizens.
Architectural historians found the building to be a fine and rare regional example of Googie roadside architecture, but the building defied easy description. It's roof line suggested Scandinavian and Polynesian influences. It also resembled a pavilion from the 1962 Seattle World's fair. When it was built, it was referred to somewhat humorously as "Ballard's Taj Mahal."
The landmark designation for the diner was hailed by many preservationists as a victory for mid-century modern architecture preservation. But it was also widely ridiculed by those who didn't like the building and felt that saving it lowered the bar too far on what can be considered historic or a landmark. For many, the Landmarks Board's decision to save it, then allow it to be demolished calls into question the fundamentals of the landmarks process.