For nearly 80 years, Minter’s Earlington Greenhouse & Nursery has been a landmark operation in the Skyway area.
However, now there is little to no trace of green in the property. All that’s left is rubble, a skeleton of nursery and a legacy for caring for the community around it.
While the nursery stopped operations two years ago, the building is only weeks away from being demolished to make way for a new housing development.
The nursery opened in 1938 by Kikujiro Mano, during a time when greenhouses and nurseries were abundant.
In 1950, Mano’s son and daughter-in-law, took over the business and followed Mano’s legacy of cultivating the green hotbed of houseplants and flowers.
In 1995, when the Manos were ready to retire and close the operation, Paul Farrington and Ron Minter decided to keep the doors open a little longer.
“When we first bought the business, we only planned to run it for five years,” said Farrington. “But that turned into 10 years and that turned into 20 years.”
Farrington, who worked as the operating owner, was a regular customer at the greenhouse when the Manos still ran shop. One day when he was at the store to buy a container plant, Manos told him of their plans. Farrington knew there and then he had to keep the greenhouse doors open to the public for a little while longer was a no brainier for him. He shared the idea with Minter, and they got to work to buy the nursery.
The tradition continued and the greenhouse, renamed to Minter’s Earlington Greenhouse & Nursery, became a retail nursery and wholesale department. And a neighborhood landmark.
Minter’s was the last nursery standing in the Earlington Hill/Skyway area, which at one point saw nearly half a dozen competitors.
The industry suffered during the recession in 2008, and many greenhouse and nurseries closed their doors for good.
“When we first took it over, everyone thought we were crazy because there were five other big garden centers around us,” said Farrington. “Everybody said we couldn’t compete with that. But we said, ‘We’re not. We’re here for the neighborhood.’ And that’s what happened. The neighborhood supported us. All the other nurseries are gone. We were the last ones standing.”
The duo decided in 2015 that it was time to close this chapter of their lives and retire from the business.
The greenhouse closed its doors in 2015 and the property was sold to Polygon Homes, who is about to demolish the building to make way for townhouses.
“It’s been a long ride for us,” said Farrington. “It’s been an emotional roller coaster, to say the least.”
It was important to Minter and Farrington that the land be used to give back the neighborhood in some way, just like the nursery had. The duo called every nursery in the Pacific Northwest to see if they were interested in buying the business, however did not find any takers, “mostly because the land is urbanized,” according to Farrington. They then decided to sell the property to a housing developer.
“It was one of our goals throughout the transition, to open a place to help out the entire community,” said Minter. “There’s an upgrade for the entire community for renewal and growth. I think it will entirely help the Skyway area.”