by Paul Dorpat IF FIRST THE reader studies the "then" photo, there on the far right a signpost hints that this nifty Siberrian Freshly Frozen...

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If first the reader studies the “then” photo, there on the far right a signpost hints that this nifty Siberrian Freshly Frozen Ice Cream shop is frozen at the gateway to Ballard. The two signs pointing to the left read “2 Ferry to Suquamish” and “1 Gov’t Locks.” And the clipped sign to the right reads, in part, “Woodland Park.”

Turning to the “now,” the reader will verify that this is the northwest corner of Market Street and 15th Avenue Northwest. There stands the familiar but now boarded Ballard landmark that has been variously called the Taj Mahal of Ballard, an “overturned boat” (from The Seattle Times in 1983) and — quoting Edward M. Manning Jr., who helped open it in 1964 as the Ballard branch of the popular Manning’s Cafe — “a marriage of Northwest and Polynesian longhouse in the idiom of Paul Bunyan.”

This winter the forces of preservation and property are battling it out to determine if the soaring landmark may be exchanged for condos (by Rhapsody Partners out of Kirkland), or kept for reuse as — well, as what?

Perhaps a revived Manning’s or Denny’s, its two tenants so far. Or as a Norwegian Lutheran Church, replacing the sign with a steeple. Or perhaps as itself, one of Seattle’s best examples of the Googie-style architecture popular in the 1950s and ’60s for both churches and cafes?

The preservationists won “Round 1” Jan. 2, when the city’s Preservation Board voted 8-1 for its landmark nomination. Comes next the required second hearing this Wednesday at 3:30 in the Municipal Tower, 700 Fifth Ave., Room 4060. The meeting will be open to the public. The building’s fate will be decided in another vote.

“Washington Then and Now,” by Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard, can be purchased through www.washingtonthenandnow.com ($45) or through Tartu Publications at P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145.