Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - restaurants

Designers: Peterson and Adams, Architects (firm); John Wallace Adams (architect); Alfons Victor Peterson (architect)

Dates: constructed 1968-1969

2 stories, total floor area: 13,900 sq. ft.

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401 NE Northlake Way
Seattle, WA 98105-6818

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Occupying a 27,032-square-foot lot, Ivar's Salmon House has been a landmark on the north end of Lake Union since the mid-1960s. It occupied the site of a former shingle mill, one of many inudstries that lined the lake from the late-nineteenth century until the 1950s. The architecture took its cue from Northwest Indian longhouses and its decor was created through a collaboration with the University of Washington's Burke Museum.

Building History

Ivar Haglund (1905-1985), the legendary Seattle restaurateur, commissioned the Seattle architecture firm Peterson and Adams in 1966, to design this eatery, conceived to float on a barge. The restaurant's original conception was a modern, two-story building with a second-story, west-facing balcony; a tall mast with a sign announced its presence. Haglund opted for another design, a replica of a Northwest Native American dwelling. He worked with several students of Bill Holm (born 1925), a well-known curator at the University of Washington's Burke Museum, to create the Salmon House's interior and exterior, loosely based on a Tlingit long house. According to a Seattle Times news article of 11/24/1968, John W. Adams (1919-2002) was the architect for the restaurant. This brief story indicated that the restaurant at 401 North Northlake Way had received its building permit and would cost $80,000. (See "Subdivisions Are Where Area's Building Action Is," Seattle Times, 11/24/1968, p. 6D.)

The Seattle Visitor's Bureau staged a meeting at the Salmon House on 07/17/1969, a few weeks before the restaurant officially opened. On 11/01/1969, Haglund hosted a Potlatch to publicize his restaurant's opening and to fund a scholarship (for a Native American student) at Seattle's Cornish School for the Arts. Holm curated an exhibition of Native American artifacts from private collections for this event. According to an article in the Seattle Times of 10/19/1969: "The building, an adaptation of an Indian longhouse, is of pole and split-cedar construction. It is decorated outside and in by Indian carvings, the interior ones done by Duane Pasco."

Building Notes

According to an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer of 02/28/1966, Haglund bought a concrete barge on which he would build his new restaurant. The article stated: "The 1918 vintage concrete barge, "Success," obtained from Quigg Brothers-McDonald, Incorporated, through Oaksmith-Carlson, marine brokers, for $16,000, will be towed from Grays Harbor as a soon as there is a tug returning 'light' from the Aberdeen-Hoquiam area, Haglund said." The article indicated that Haglund planned to use a barge to enlarge the site's footprint for his restaurant. He also observed that "...the low freeboard of the barge will put viewers on the same level as the passing boats." (See "A Floating Restaurant," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 02/28/1966, page not known.) Haglund had a budget of $300,000 for the new facility, of which $126,600 was paid for the site.

The Wayland Mill Company operated a cedar shingle mill on the property which featured a 150-foot by 150-foot frontage on Northlake Avenue. John Adams of the Seattle architecture firm, Peterson and Adams, created the initial site plan for the Ivar's Restaurant. This same firm remodeled the Ivar's Acres of Clams location on the Downtown Waterfront and renovated the former Crawford's Restaurant on Elliott Avenue into The Captain's Table.

Contact information:

Business Name: Ivar's Salmon House
Business Address: 401 NE Northlake Way, Seattle, WA 98105
Business Phone: 206.632.0767
Business Website:


Alterations have included work done in 1979, 2006, and 2012. During 01/2006, $80,000 was spent on new (unspecified) construction at the restaurant, and between 11/13/2006 and 08/28/2007, the King County Assessor indicated that the following work was done: "Interior remodel of existing restaurant, excluding fish cafe and prep kitchen, to include minor modifications to bar and relocation of cooking area." This work cost $125,000. Between 12/04/2012 and 07/29/2013, bar alterations costing $148,200 occurred.