The Colonial Theatre Tea Garden

The beauty spot of downtown Richmond was, in 1921, the Tea Garden of the brand-new Colonial Theatre. Herein, we recreate the essence of elegance, joy and hauteur that was once found in Virginia's first real picture palace. Bathtub gin is available at the top of the grand ramps.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Before I begin I would like to call attention to an FOAF blog. (That’s “Friend of a Friend”.) This FOAF comes to me via Lisa, the Sibyl of Mulberry street (that’s Richmond, the Holy City.)

Scope, if you will, This woman rocks.

I am very much attuned to keeping the peace with the spirits of those who have come before us. I live, you see, in a house populated by two living creatures—myself and an octogenarian cat—and, as far as I can tell, an infinite number of spooks.

Mind you, most people look at this house, with its peeling Official Old Baltimore Green paint on its trim and Also Official Old Baltimore lace curtains and Tired Victorian Red Velvet Draperies, and assume that it is inhabited by a widowed lady who remembers hanging blue stars in the window for her boy in the Great War.

This is partially true. I am not widowed but I am most antediluvian, and I have been known to hang a blue star in the window to honor my friends in this most recent conflict of interest. I also keep the sheet music for “I’m Proud To Be the Sweetheart of a Soldier” prominently displayed on my Pianola. It’s right between “Maryland, my Maryland” and “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny.”

I don’t think that all of this is entirely my doing, though. When I bought this old pile, I became the third owner—ever—of the house. I found a variety of stuff in it—boxes of family pictures, records, and a wedding dress in its original satin-lined box from Hochschild, Kohn & Co. (Note to Auslander: one of Baltimore’s favorite department stores.)

I also found a few pieces of pretty Haviland china and a set of parfait glasses in that fashionable Imperial Crystal Co. pattern, “Cape Cod”.

And so I started buying Cape Cod crystal, and stopped worrying over my own china pattern in favor of the pretty old one I’d found in the house.

I now have service for sixteen in Cape Cod and twelve in that china pattern. It looks very pretty with my “Baltimore Rose” sterling silver.

And every time I have a dinner party for eight or cocktails for thirty, I love to hear the glasses tinkling while the Grafonola deafens a new set of dancers. After 120 years, this house is still alive and hosting big parties. The house is happy about it. So are its former, deceased owners, and so am I.