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Twin Teepees Restaurant

Address: 7201 Aurora Avenue North
Date Built: 1937; demolished 2001
Original Architect/Builder: Delland W. Harris, Architect
Description: Roadside restaurant structure composed of two conical steel teepees

Building History and Significance:

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Photograph of Twin T-P’s Restaurant, 1937 / Photo: MOHAI

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Photograph of Twin T-P’s Restaurant, 1937 / Photo: MOHAI

Built in 1937 in Seattle’s Green Lake neighborhood, the Twin T-Ps Restaurant embodied the Depression-era trend of constructing bold and innovative roadside architecture for the nation’s increasingly mobile population. During the 1940s the establishment was acquired by restaurateur Walter Clark, who hired Col. Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame to help run the restaurant’s kitchen. Although operating under a series of names and owners, the Twin T-Ps remained in operation as a roadside restaurant through the 1990s.

 

Preservation Issue:

1990s postcard of Twin TPs / Collection of Eugenia Woo.1990s postcard of Twin TPs / Collection of Eugenia Woo.

In May 2000 an accidental fire in the basement of the Twin T-Ps complex caused significant smoke damage to the building’s interior and forced the immediate closure of the restaurant. The cost of repairing the damages and upgrading building systems to meet modern code requirements prompted the property owner to pursue demolition instead of rehabilitation. Without public notice the Twin T-Ps was razed on July 31, 2001.

 

 

Current Status:

Site of Twin TPs, now an apartment building / Photo: Eugenia Woo."

Site of Twin TPs, now an apartment building / Photo: Eugenia Woo."

Today the site of the Twin T-Ps is occupied by a four-story apartment complex completed in 2010. Because the Twin T-Ps building was never nominated as a Seattle Landmark, the owner was not afforded any of the incentives, nor the community any of the controls, that accompany Landmark designation. Wording in the Seattle Land Use Code allowed the building to be demolished without public notice or input from the City’s Historic Preservation Program. The loss of the Twin T-Ps is a reminder that even the most cherished neighborhood “landmark” may be lost if not for the dedicated stewardship of property owners and community members alike.

 

Additional Information:

Docomomo WEWA Lost Building Profile

“Twin T-Ps Restaurant, early roadside attraction, opens on March 13, 1937”
HistoryLink Essay 2890

“Bulldozer crushes Seattle's historic Twin Teepees restaurant on July 31, 2001”
History Link Essay Essay 3719

“Twin Teepees development bought at Green Lake”
Puget Sound Business Journal, February 25, 2010

“Remembering the Twin Teepees and the Col. Sanders legend”
Seattle PI, July 31, 2009

“The Twins Are Toppled”
Seattle Times, August 19, 2007

“Landmark Twin Teepees restaurant is razed”
Seattle PI, August 1, 2001

“Since fire, landmark still closed”
Seattle Times, December 13, 2000

 

 

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