Gone But Not Forgotten Tea Room Business Cards

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From the Land of Tea

In this installment of "From the Land of Tea," we take a sneak-peek look at an upcoming page that will eventually be on display to the public. As a Patreon supporter, you have access to the page one full year before the public does.

  • Patreon Release Date: October 14th, 2022.
  • Public Release Date: October 14th, 2023.

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American Tea Room Business Cards!

Today's topic is again Tea Rooms by Location. These are old postcards, and each one has a caption explaining it, and some have additional text. These images will eventually be on display at the Mystic Tea Room web site. As a Patreon supporter, you have access to them one full year before the public does.

To place this work in context, please read the following introductory pages


Gone But Not Forgotten

Vintage postcards depicting early to mid 20th century tea rooms are not excruciatingly difficult to acquire. Search the online auctions and postcard dealer sites and and you will soon get started on a a nice little collection. But try to collect business cards from tea rooms of the same time period and you will run into a brick wall. They are hard to find, no doubt about it.

In this installment i am featuring Tea Rooms of the 20th Century for which business cards, advertisements, or signage exist, but for which i have not (yet) found postcards.

Thanks to you, my Patrons, this page has made it to the web. In a year it will be made public and the business cards will eventually be folded into my page on Vintage Tea Room Business Cards by state and city.

Indiana Tea Room Business Cards and Advertisements

Mishawaka, Indiana

Mishawaka Tea Room, Mishawaka, Indiana, business card. This card features illustrative line-art and lettering ("Good old fashioned Home Cooking") and a spot cartoon, with comic strip lettering ("We have the hunches for lunches") We also learn that the proprietor, C. L. A. Miller, serves "Strictly Home Cooking" and that the tea room was located at 220 N. Main Street in downtown Mishawaka.

Maine Tea Room Business Cards and Advertisements

Gray, Maine

Rowenda Tea Room and Cottages, Crystal Lake, Gray, Maine. The sweet artwork depicts a young girl in Pilgrom costume, gazing upon blooming hollyhock flowers. Perhaps her name is Rowenda. "Situated on beautiful Crystal Lake in Gray, Maine, the ROWENDA TEA ROOM and COTTAGES offer the fastifious guest delicious home-cooked foods and attractive camps, under the pines on the shores of the lake. Special meals may be ordered, also reservations made in advance for camps. Telephone R-23. The ROWENDA TEA ROOM and COTTAGES are located on Route 26, three miles from Gray and only forty-five minutes by motor from Portland." Although it is undated, the early telephone number, the reference to a car as a "motor," and the Colonial Revival style of the art would seem to place this card in the period of 1920-1925. According to the Gray Historical Society, the property was 25 acres in size and the Tea Room was the regular meeting place for a women's association called the Optomystic Club. Frances Woodbury, the proprietor of the tea room. was the group's honorary president. When she died in 1932, her son Roliston inherited the property and the tea room was closed. Alice Welch purchased the property in the 1970s and as of 2021 she was operating an antique shop on the premises, named The Barn on 26.

West Jonesport, Maine

Seth Parker Tea Roon, West Jonesport, Maine, Charlotte D. Morton, Hostess. "Shore Dinners, Lunches, Bridge Parties. Rooms by the Day, Week, or Season. Prices Reasonable." This nicely embossed card relates to Seth Parker, a fictional character on radio portrayed by Phillips H. Lord (1902 - 1975) and broadcast on WEAF in New York City, with national syndication on the NBC network. Lord was a 28 year old radio writer, creator, producer and narrator when he began "Sunday Evening at Seth Parker's," which featured a wise old clergyman-philosopher based on his own grandfather, Hosea Phillips. The show featured old musical favourites, and the kind of homespun small-town story-telling that nostalgic Americans love. The stories were set in Jonesport, Maine, and it is here that the Seth Parker Tea Room was created, to capitalize on the popularity of the show. In 1932 the radio series made the leap to film with the RKO Radio Pictures release "Way Back Home," starring Lord as Seth Parker and co-starred Bette Davis and Frankie Darro. This was accompanied by a 1932 book, "Seth Parker and His Jonesport Folks: Way Back Home." In 1933 Lord decided to outfit a schooner named the Seth Parker, and to broadcast the real-life adventures of himself and his crew via shortwave radio as they sailed to Australia from 1934-1935. The ship was wrecked by a tropical storm and the crew was rescued by the Australians, but it came to light that the old Yankee schooner was actually a party boat, carrying alcoholic beverages and young women. Lord came home, dropped the Seth Parker persona at once, and created a new show for the CBS network, "Gang Busters," which opened with the sound of machine guns, wailing sirens, and police whistles and presented real-life accounts of contemporary crimes. He made a long-term success out of "Gang Busters," which ran for more than 1,000 episodes over two decade and was franchised as a DC comic book and spun off into several movies and a TV series.
Radio Guide, December 17th, 1931, featuring a front-page story on the popularity of the Phillips H. Lord show "Sunday Evening at Seth Parker's."

Massachusetts Tea Room Business Cards and Advertisements

Bernardston, Massachusetts

The Cabin Tea Roon, George and Maude Varney, proprietors. "Home Cooking -- Refreshments. Maple Products -- Gifts. Greenfield-Brattleboror Rd., Bernardston, Massachusetts." This business card is unusual in that although it is located on athe Massachusetts-Vermont border, the freehand lettering is in an Asian brush-stroke style and the image (copyright "M A I" or "A M I") depicts a Japanese Geisha preparing tea on the floor. How this fits in with the rustic "Cabin" name and the maple syrup products, or the owners' surname, Varney, is a mystery to me.

Minnesota Tea Room Business Cards and Advertisements

Duluth, Minnesota

Burgetta Moe's Tea Room in the Devonshire Apartments, Fourteenth Avenue East and First Street, Duluh. Phone Hemlocj 5000. A Restful Tea Room in the Residence District. Home Cooked Foods Attractively Served. Breakfast, Luncheon, Afternoon Tea, Dinner." According to the Zenith City Press, "Burgetta Moe’s Tea Room operated as part of her Coolshanagh Inn at 742 1/2 East Superior Street -- the eastern portion of the Hartley Building -- beginning in 1921. The food was prepared 'as only Miss Moe knows,' and was famous for its roast chicken dinner. The tea house only opened for daily lunches and Sunday meals, served from noon to 2:30 pm. Today Patrick D. Francisco & Associates, a financial advising firm, operates from Miss Moe’s former location."
Compliments: -- ATLAS TEA ROOMS, 124-125 W. First Street, Duluth, Minnesota. "The finest and most up to date Tea Room in the Northwest. We serve the best home-cooked food in the city of Duluth. The best in pastries and courteous service. It's a pleasure for us to serve you, and you will find there is no better place to eat. Our Fountain is a place where you can enjoy a real drink or the best in Ice Cream. Come in and try one of our Specials. Our candies are made by us daily and are the best quality that can be made anywhere. A box of our Chocolates or other candy will be a treat to any lover of pure candies. ATLAS TEA ROOMS." According to the Zenith City Press, the Atlas Tea Room opened on December 20, 1922, offering a “full line of homemade candy, pastry, ice cream, and lunches.” An unknown woman wrote on this business card, "Lilac are just out here -- woods are lovely. We eat here -- 'We' means the 'Compton Advisors' as we are called (a party of 12 ladies)." For a view of the interior of this tea room, see Minnesota Tea Rooms.
A restaurant ware china creamer from the Atlas Candy and Tea Rooms, Duluth, Minnesota. I like to think that one of the "Compton Advisors" used it to add cream to her tea.
The backstamp on the bottom of the Atlas Candy and Tea Rooms creamer reads "E.F. Burg, Duluth." Burg would not have been the pottery company but a local hotel and restaurant ware supplier; it was common practice for such companies to pay the pottery to place their name on the goods for which they took orders, so that in the normal course of inventorying broken or stolen pieces, the proprietor of the tea room or restaurant would know who to look up to get replacements of their private pattern.

New York Tea Room Business Cards and Advertisements

New York City, New York

Chapin Tea Room, Buffalo, New York. "Excellent Home Cooking. Chapin Tea Room. K. Sato. Luncheon 40¢ -- Dinner 60¢ - 75¢ - 90¢. Holidays and Sundays. Chicken, Duck, Steak Dinners 65¢ - 85¢ and $1.00. Chapin Tea Room, K. Sato. Luncheon 40¢ -- Dinner 60¢ - 75¢ - 90¢. Holidays and Sundays. Chicken, Duck, Steak Dinners 65¢ - 85¢ and $1.00. Tokyo Chow Mein and Chop Suey a Specialty. Orders Filled to Take Out. Special Attention Given To Bridge Luncheons. Phone Garfield 4678603 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, N. Y." Who "Chapin" was, i do not know, but K. Sato, the proprietor, was proud enough of being Japanese to mention Tokyo, while still succumbing to the American palate's love of Chinese food by offering Chow Mein and Chop Suey. Given the anti-Japanese sentiment that developed after the bombing of Pearl Harnor in 1941, it is pretty obvious that this tea room business card dates to the 1920s or 1930s.
Mor Chong Co. Chinese Art Shoppe and Tea Room. 227 West 52nd Street, A Few Doors from Iceland, New York City, Phone Columbus 6541." On the back of the card the name "Geo. [George] Gong" is scrawled in a bold hand, in pencil. He may have been an employee at the Art Shoppe or Chinese Tea Room.

Pennsylvania Tea Room Business Cards and Advertisements

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Hand painted wooden sign, "1/2 Mile To 'The Little House' Tea Room. Open Saturday Afternoons." The Cross of Lorraine with the letters "S P" is, so far, of unknown significance to me. All i know about this tea room is that the seller of the sign said that the it had been located "near Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the 1920s."

See Also


Thanks, as always, to dear nagasiva yronwode for help with scan clean-ups and social media.

catherine yronwode
curator, historian, and docent
The Mystic Tea Room

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