Virginia Tea Rooms

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Virginia State Tea Room Gallery, in alphabetical order by name of city or town.

From the Land of Tea

In this installment of "From the Land of Tea," we take a look at a web page that was funded by my Patreon supporters, who had access to it one full year before the public.

  • Patreon Release Date: January 21st, 2023,
  • Public Release Date: January 21st, 2024.

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Tea Room Postcards!!

All of the material you have access to here -- the fabulous tea cups, the instructive booklets, the nostalgic postcards, the boldly graphic matchbook covers, and all of the historical information researched and shared from the mind of the woman who is making it all happen -- can easily fit into one 8 x 10 foot room in an old Victorian farmhouse, but you would never see it without the investment of the time it takes to produce such a site and the caloric input such a site requires in the form of food for the writer, graphic designer, and database manager, as well as the US currency needed to pay for the computers, software applications, scanners, electricity, and internet connectivity that bring it out of that little room and into the world. So, as you can see, this site is the darling of many, and it is growing at a rapid rate ... but although it is "free," there also is a cost. Your financial support underwrites this cost.

Each new web page or sample pdf is circulated to Patrons as an unpublished galley proof or advance copy. After one year access for Patrons, each web page will be released to the public, while book pages will be available to the public as printed books, and copies will be sent to Patrons who subscribe at the upper two tiers.

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Virginia State Tea Room Gallery

The cards and photos are in alphabetical order by name of city or town.


Ella Cinders Tea Room Ashland, Virginia, postcard front, circa 1930 - 1935. This tea room was named after the comic strip "Ella Cinders", a syndicated comic strip by the writer Bill Conselman and the artist Charles Plumb, which began its run in 1925. The name of the title character is a play on "Cinderella." Conselman was born in New York and lived in California and Plumb grew up in Missouri before moving to California -- so the existence of an Ella Cinders Tea Room in Ashland, Virginia, is unexpected. The proprietor of the establishment is W. N. Wickham, who is probably the man standing beside his wife in the tea room's doorway.
Ella Cinders Tea Room Ashland, Virginia, linen finish postcard front, circa 1940- 1955. The text on the back reads, "Ella Cinders Tea Room, Ashland, Va -- on U.S. 1 Highway 16 miles N. of Richmond, Va. Recommended by AAA for past 19 years -- Delicious balanced meals served in an atmosphere of quiet refinement. Ultra modern Guest rooms, Private baths." The publisher is MWM Color-Litho of Aurora, Missouri. The sign over the entrance has been changed, and if you look carefully, you will see the cartoon head of Ella Cinders.
The original plot of "Ella Cinders" centered on the hope and heartbreak of Hollywood during the silent film era. An "Ella Cinders" movie was made in 1927, starring Colleen Moore, and there were all manner of commercial spin-offs, including Big Little Books, comic book reprints, and product endorsements. Bill Conselman went on to write fifty Hollywood movie screenplays in the next decade, and his son Bill Conselman Jr. also worked in films. The family lived on a ranch in Soquel, California. Conselman died after a brief illness in 1940 at the age of 43. His estate continued the strip by hiring a series of uncredited ghost-writers and giving Plumb sole credit, although Plumb relied heavily on his art assistant Hardie Gramatky. When Plumb retired in the mid-1950s, Fred Fox became the artist and writer. Fox continued to write the strip but in 1960 he turned the art chores over to Roger Armstrong until the series ended in 1961.


Williams Service Station and Tea Room, on U. S. Route No. 15, 3 Miles South of Culpepper, VA. There is a lot of signage in this card. Form left to right: "Crankcase Service - Standard - Cars Greased," "Essolube Motor Oil," "Esso Standard, N. (or H.) P. Williams, Agt.," "Esso Standard Products," "Meals," "Esso Costs No More by the Mile." Two male patrons have left the tea room and are approaching their sedan.


The Garden Tea Room, Richmond, Virginia. The text on the back of this card, which depicts a home-based tea room, reads, "Garden Tea Room, The House Back in the Trees, 'Really Good Food.' Mrs. Theron H. Rice, 3206 Chamberlayne Avenue (U. S. 1), Richmond, Virginia."


Blue Eagle Tourist Court and Jolly Jay Tea Room, circa 1940. The text on the back of the card reads: "Jolly jay Tea Room and Blue Eagle Tourist Court, also One Stop Service Station. Complete Modern Equipment. Located on U.S. No. 11, 1 Mile North if Roanoke, Virginia. D. T. Oyler and Sons, Props." The sign in front of the tea room promotes, "The Jolly Jay Tea Room" and features a neon Blue Jay image. The "Blue Eagle Tourist Court" sign stands guard at far right. The tourist court buildings have been given Spanish Mission style facades and a bright Blue Eagle with outspread wings adorns the front gable of the office building, with its cheerful red hand-crank gas pumps, which are surrounded by small conifers.
Blue Eagle Tourist Court and Tea Room, circa 1950. The text on the back of the card reads: "Blue Eagle Tourist Court and Tea Room, One Stop 24-Hour Service for Your Convenience. Complete Modern Equipment. Located on U.S. No. 11, 1 Mile North of Roanoke, Virginia. D. T. Oyler and Sons, Props." The sign in front of the tea room now clearly reads, "Joe's." The old neon "Blue Eagle Tourist Court" sign stands at far right, and the words "Blue Eagle Tourist Court" have been painted on the ends of the buildings, which have lost their flamboyant Spanish facades and are now simply box-like and more easily maintained. The little conifers have grown taller and modern electrical gas pumps have replaced the old hand-crank ones.

Virginia Hot Springs

Japanese Tea Room, Homestead Hotel, Virginia Hot Springs, Virginia, postcard front; divided back era. Note the Japanese paper lanterns and parasols, ornate rattan seating, a small potted palm, and gracefully arched wooden room dividers. The postage stamp on the card's back tells us that it was mailed June 28, 1912 to Mrs. Annie R. DeVoe, Hotel Aberdeen, No 19 W 32nd St., New York. The message reads: "Got your P/C. Am just beginning to gain weight and I am ? on up grade. Expect to remain here until end of next week. Had too much rain, now clear, and this place is beautiful. Your summer friend, (?.) A." E.F. Carpenter, Publisher, Va. Hot Springs. No. 3011. Made in Germany; divided back era.
Japanese Room, Homestead Hotel, Virginia Hot Springs, Virginia, postcard front; divided back era. Despite the radical change in colouring -- either a case of redecorating or an artifact imposed by the printer, who was working from a black and white photo, this appears to be a 180 degree reverse shot of the above card, taken from an adjacent room. Note that the long South-facing window-wall with its gathered-up curtains runs along the left side in the card directly above and is on the right side here. Modern-style and less ornate rattan chairs are in use in this broader, lobby-like area, but the two rooms are unified by the Japanese lanterns and parasols that hang from the ceilings, the small potted palm, and the arched room dividers.

Westmoreland County

The Log House Tea Room, Washington's birthplace in Westmoreland County, Virginia, exterior, circa 1932. The George Washington Birthplace National Monument is situated at the confluence of Popes Creek and the Potomac River. It commemorates the birthplace location of George Washington, the first President of the United States, who was born here on February 22, 1732. The original house burned down long ago, but in 1931 an era-appropriate Memorial House was designed and built under the direction of the architect Edward Donn, Jr., and furnished as a museum with items from the period and artifacts recovered from the burned-down house, including a tea table. A smaller building, The Log House, was built on the site by the Wakefield National Memorial Association, which planned the creation of the Park and National Monument. It was intended to be a place for refreshments and overnight accommodations.
Dining Room of the Log House Tea Room, Washington's birthplace in Westmoreland County, Virginia, circa 1932. The furniture and decorate is meant to evoke the aura of a small colonial tavern of the 1730s, if it had been retrofitted as a cozy tea room.
Another view of the Dining Room of the Log House Tea Room, Washington's birthplace in Westmoreland County, Virginia, circa 1932. The Park, Tea Room, and Memorial House were opened by the National Park Service in 1932, on the 200th anniversary of George Washington's birth. The Wakefield National Memorial Association's overconfidence in the business potential of the Log House Tea Room during the Great Depression led to conflicts with the National Park Service, which in turn led to the eventual closure of the enterprise.
A late 20th century view of the Log House, at the George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Westmoreland County, Virginia. A new wing has been added and the building no longer houses a tea room.

Thanks for stopping by -- and thanks to my dear husband, nagasiva yronwode, for photoshopping and cleaning up these images along with me and making our weekly announcement placard.

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

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