The renovation project includes the restoration of the front of the original 1911 building and a new pavilion opening onto the Shakespeare Garden.
SAN MARINO, Calif.—The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens is excited to announce its beloved, historic Rose Garden Tea Room is slated to reopen by spring 2023. The Tea Room’s renovations include the restoration of the front of the original 1911 building, the creation of a new outdoor dining area, and the improvement of functionality in its service areas. The project, developed by The Huntington with Architectural Resources Group, includes upgraded indoor dining spaces, a modernized kitchen, new restrooms and ancillary areas, and a new pavilion on its eastern side, which will open onto the Shakespeare Garden for outdoor dining service. On the west side of the building, the room that opens out to the Herb Garden is also being renovated and will be made available for private rentals, in addition to being used for the Tea Room’s general service.
The $11.2 million project broke ground in late 2021 and is being funded entirely through charitable donations. The Tea Room has been closed to the public since March 2020, first because of the COVID-19 pandemic and then for the renovations.
“This renovation celebrates one of our most beloved historic structures, acknowledging what has been one of the area’s most iconic dining destinations since it first opened to the public many decades ago,” said Huntington President Karen R. Lawrence. “These innovative upgrades will make for an absolutely unique tea experience. The Shakespeare Garden pavilion creates a beautifully fluid space between indoors and outdoors that our visitors will love.”
Built in 1911, The Huntington’s Rose Garden Tea Room was originally created as a billiard room and bowling alley for Huntington founder Henry E. Huntington. The building was designed by architect Myron Hunt, who also designed Henry and wife Arabella Huntington’s residence (now the Huntington Art Gallery), the Library building, and the Huntingtons’ garage (now the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery).
“The Tea Room is part of the historic core of The Huntington; it’s a small classical structure and a small-scale partner to the mansion,” said Stephen Farneth, the project architect for the Tea Room’s renovation. “Everything at The Huntington is about indoors and outdoors—a large, breezy loggia is a signature aspect of the residence, for example—and so the Tea Room project will connect the building to some of the visual and physical elements of the surrounding gardens.”
In 1928, a year after Henry Huntington’s death (Arabella died in 1924), The Huntington opened to the public, and the billiard room and bowling alley were transformed into a “tearoom,” serving luncheon for visitors, staff, and researchers. A menu from 1940 lists options such as bread and butter with jam, toasted English muffins with marmalade, and lettuce-and-mayonnaise sandwiches. Food service for visitors was interrupted between 1943 and 1959 because the endeavor was losing money.
In the 1960s and ’70s, the space served as an extension of the cafeteria used by staff and visiting researchers, and it was also used for casual meetings. “Afternoon tea,” drawing on the English style of tea service, began to be offered in the 1980s and has continued (under various management) since then. The popular service will resume once the Tea Room reopens.
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About The Huntington
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens is a cultural and educational institution of global significance. Building on Henry E. and Arabella Huntington’s renowned collections, The Huntington supports research and promotes education in the arts, humanities, and botanical science through the growth and preservation of its collections; the development of a community of scholars, school programs, and partnerships; and the display and interpretation of its extraordinary resources for diverse audiences. The Huntington is located at 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, California, 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles. Visitor information: huntington.org.