Denny's | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Michael Locke

Denny's

Van de Kamp’s Holland Dutch Bakery, founded in 1915, was a Los Angeles institution for much of the twentieth century. Its trademark Dutch windmill appeared on its bakeries and coffee shops across the region, but today only one windmill survives intact, atop a coffee shop (now a Denny’s) in Arcadia.

The building was completed in 1967 and was designed by Pasadena architects Harold Bissner and Harold Zook. It features a large update of the company’s Dutch windmill sitting atop the building’s circular folded-plate roof.

The roof, in its exemplary Googie style, wholly dominates the restaurant.

The rest of the sixteen-sided building is clad in brick and has large windows extending around the façade in typical Googie coffee shop fashion. The Arcadia Van de Kamp’s is the last surviving windmill-topped restaurant in Southern California, and this is only because of loud public outcry when new owner Denny’s proposed demolition of the windmill in 1999. Enthusiastic protests quickly changed the company’s mind, and instead of ruining a historic building to match its brand’s 1950s “retro” style, it opted to retain the real thing. The result is a more than appropriate modern use of a wonderful example of Googie architecture, and the windmill lives on to see the future. Its arms were once operable, turning cheerfully on the corner of Huntington and Santa Anita, and who knows—maybe they will turn again someday.

On June 29, 2016 the windmill started operation again, for the first time since 1989. 

Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

California State University, Dominguez Hills

Using the rolling topography and mild outdoor climate as his palette, the architect masterfully integrated broad landscapes of green lawns and concrete walkways, punctuated by an abundance of trees.