Park is a piece of Boise’s past

City inherits Day family property, Manley's Cafe site on Bench

awebb@idahostatesman.comMay 10, 2014 


    For Boiseans of a certain age, Manley's was legendary. The place, a modest greasy spoon next to the Day property, was famous for big food.

    A piece of pie meant you were getting a quarter of a whole pie. The prime rib hung over the edges of its plate.

    W. Manley Morrow opened the cafe in the 1950s. Family members tried to keep the place going after his death, eventually selling it to two Manley's waitresses. They called it quits in 1997.

    The Days bought Manley's. They cleared the property and it became part of the family's gift to the city. The Days kept the cafe's 1970s-era wooden sign.

    The sign is the centerpiece of a historical kiosk that will stand near the old cafe site soon.

    "Beneath the sign, we're 'interpreting' the cafe," said Mark Baltes of Landmark Impressions. A panel will include photographs of Manley's in its heyday and information about Morrow.

    Baltes is also planning a photographed reproduction of a Manley's place setting.

    Naturally, it will include giant food. The Idaho State Historical Museum has agreed to loan actual artifacts from the cafe - silverware, salt and pepper shakers - to be used in the photo shoot.

    Baltes plans to install the kiosk in July.

    Anna Webb

Pat and Terry Day lived in their 1910 house surrounded by lilacs and shade trees at the top of Protest Hill for close to 60 years.

When Terry Day died in 2006, her husband donated their seven acres of land as a park in Terry's honor.

The donation included the family home and the intention that, after Pat's death, it would become a community center.

Pat Day died in November, just two weeks after the dedication of Terry Day Park, which includes the land where the beloved Manley's Cafe once sat.

Now Boise Parks and Recreation is deciding the future of the Day house on Kootenai Street.

"Initially, there wasn't a plan for whether the house would be kept, moved or razed," said Doug Holloway, director of Parks and Rec.

The department has hired an architect to do a structural and environmental assesment of the house.

"That will give us a clear picture of what would need to be done to preserve it, and a dollar figure of what it would take to bring it up to code," Holloway said.

A number of scenarios exist for the Day house, pending the assessment's outcome. The city could preserve part or all of the structure for public use. The house could even become city office space.

Terri Schorzman, director of the city's Department of Arts and History, would like to see the house become space that could be rented for weddings, memorials and other events. It would be similar to the Boise Depot, but smaller and more affordable.

"All of the house's original built-ins are there. The original hardwood floor is there. It's a jewel," Schorzman said.


Its location, the adjacent grounds and park, and its view overlooking the Valley are attractions that could make the house a good place for events, Schorzman said. A memorial garden also will be planted near the house.

Having such an amenity could be vital for the area, which a 2004 city study concluded was underserved for parks and open space.

All potential uses for the house are open for discussion, Holloway said.

It is unlikely that the house would become a community center, he said, because the area already has the Whitney Community Center on nearby Owyhee Street.

And tearing the house down is not in the picture for now.

"Before anything like that would occur, we would alert the appropriate folks, the preservationists, to make sure we're not doing something we're going to regret," Holloway said.

Members of Preservation Idaho and the history committee of the Department of Arts and History have toured the house. Boise Mayor Dave Bieter will tour it soon.

Architectural conservator Fred Walker, working with the Idaho Heritage Trust, gave a preliminary assessment, noting several alterations since 1910.

Despite those alterations, Walker wrote, "The house can still hold historical significance for Boise and the Day family ... many original aspects, like the lovely interior, contribute to its importance, in addition to its association with a prominent Boise family."


Terry Day was born in Wales; Pat Day was born in Twin Falls. They met in Boise when both were working at Albertsons. They married in 1953 and moved into the house soon after. They raised their family there.

Both Days were involved with the life of the city and were members of many civic organizations. They were among the founding members of the Boise Swim and Racquet Club, and their lot included a private tennis court.

The court is gone - save a telltale chunk of green and white pavement in the yard - but remnants of their other love, gardening, remain at a former greenhouse site.

A thick bower of raspberries lines the property.

Pat Day lived for about seven years after his donation to the city. That provided lots of time for Day to form a close relationship with Parks and Recreation staffers, who visited frequently, Holloway said.

Day was an avid New York Yankees fan and owned scores of memorabilia, which he displayed throughout the home. Holloway took on the challenge of trying to find Yankees souvenirs that Day didn't already own. Holloway said he was rarely successful.

Day attended the public dedication of the park shortly before taking a fall in his garden that would lead to his death.

At the ceremony, Day thanked all of the park staffers by name, Holloway said.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

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