Manci's Antique Club

Manci's Antique Club: The Cornerstone of a Community

Manci’s Antique Club is a structure that is fully integrated into the local fabric of the Daphne and Eastern Shore community. Beginning with Frank Manci “who in 1924 purchased an old wooden produce warehouse building”[1] and turned the site into a local gas filling station. Then, in the 1930s, the building began its transformation with the installation of a small bar inside that would eventually become the Manci’s Antique Club of today.  It was not until 1967, when “Arthur Manci obtained a liquor license”[2] did the restaurant and unique antique collection develop. Antiques and other items that were hung by Arthur are still visible today, and many occupy their original placement.

Photograph of the Frank Manci and Angela Trione building. Author's collection.

While the building may not retain its intended original designation as a service station, the building has carried on as a social club, event space, and restaurant since the mid-twentieth century. Throughout the late 1930s to the early 1960s, Manci’s Antique Club became less of a filling station that dispensed gas and became a filling station involving libations and a private members social club to maintain southern segregationist practices. The stand-alone building represented a form of architectural isolation to manage contact between races. 

Photograph looking north on Main Street in downtown Daphne. Author's collection.

To gain entrance to Manci’s Antique Club during the early and mid-twentieth century, interested members of the social club would receive a card, often through a payment, to designate membership and exclude non-card-carrying people. Once southern segregationist practices were outlawed, the site moved through integration and Manci’s Antique Club became a public space and venue enjoyed by everyone in the community. Therefore, when Alex Manci shut its doors for good on September 25, 2014, it was the end of a junk-filled, dive bar that had been family owned and operated since 1924.

Photograph from March 2015 about the reopening of Manci's after it was bought by Harry Johnson and John Thompson. Author's collection.
Photograph of famous Manci's signage, now located inside the restaurant. Author's collection.

[1] The Perpetual Vacationers, “Manci’s Antique Club in Daphne,” last modified August 29, 2010. 

[2] Vacationers, “Manci’s Antique Club in Daphne.”