The Daughters’ Tea Room

The early morning hours are the sweetest of all to me.  Everything just seems so tranquil and mystical . . . perhaps because most of the world is still asleep, and all those bustling souls are reaching beyond the constraints of the waking world.  The quiet calm that remains is the time when history speaks and the voices of the past can be heard.

I took advantage of the stillness this cold Saturday morning and slipped into the Oaks before the rest of the Daughters arrived. As the Chapter Historian, I feel a responsibility not only to document the activities of the Oaks current members, but also to reveal the experiences of those who came before us, experiences that have since been swept over in the a current of time and dust.

I stood in the middle of the room and closed my eyes.  Silence.  What will you have me write about today.  Tell me what you want me to say.  I heard the front door abruptly creak, rattling against its lock, and then the doorbell rang.  No time.   My eyes flew open and I reached impulsively for a scrapbook from the top shelf.

Tea room article from 1914

Tea room article from 1914

COL. TIMOTHY BIGELOW CHAPTER, D.A.R.,

OPENS TEAROOM IN OLD PAINE HOMESTEAD

August 2, 1914

Gray and weatherbeaten, sheltered by the same oaks and maples which have stood guard about it for a century and a half, stands the old Paine house on Lincoln street, but no longer will the passerby have occasion to remark as has been the case so long: “What a pity that such a place should be left empty and allowed to go to ruin!”

Yesterday marked the reinstating of its activities.  The Paine estate, or The Oaks as it was known in its early days and as it is to be called, was purchased a short time ago by Col. Timothy Bigelow chapter, D.A.R., and yesterday a tearoom was opened there, to be conducted by the members through the summer.

For seven or eight weeks, repairs and improvements have been going on, and painters, paperhangers and plumbers have been busy about the place, not to mention many of the chapter members who have worked there daily, cleaning, scrubbing and polishing walls, floors, mantels and furniture.  The entire lower floor is now in splendid condition and presents a most attractive and inviting appearance to the visitor.

Except in the library and parlor to the right and left of the entrance from the Lincoln-street side, and in the center hall which runs the entire length of the house, tea tables have been set in readiness yesterday for those who desired refreshment.  From 2 o’clock, the opening hour, chapter members were kept busy receiving those who came to visit the old mansion with its many interesting contents, and to sample the many good things which were served.

Lovers of antique furniture will wish to see the immense old mahogany secretary which stands in the parlor.  The secretary is about nine feet high and measures about the same width.  It is an interesting and complicated piece of furniture with its numerous shelves, drawers, and cupboards.

It is the property of Mrs. Dora Trumbull Roberts, a relative of the Paine family who makes her home in Stamford, Ct., when she is not stopping at the Standish hotel in Worcester.  Mrs. Roberts has had the secretary and put in excellent repair and has loaned it to the D.A.R. in their new home.

The Paine family portraits in the parlor also command attention from visitors, as well as the excellent reproductions of some of Rembrandt’s and Titan’s masterpieces which may be seen in one of the adjoining rooms.  The red upholstered mahogany davenport, a slat-backed chippendale chair, the parlor cricket and other mahogany furniture were all among the original furnishings of the Paine house, as well as the tall bookcases in the library, and smaller articles, including jardinieres and a number of plates and other dishes.  Everything from floor to ceiling is clean and fresh.

The wall paper in the hall is a soft gray and is a clever reproduction of an old-fashioned paper.  The  woodwork throughout is ivory-white, and that, with the white shades at the paint 12-paned windows, helps wonderfully in brightening the old house.  A circular staircase, which leads from the middle of the hall to the upper story attracted much attention from visitors yesterday who commented upon its (illegible).

The upper hall is completed and a modern bathroom has been installed but the rest of the rooms are yet to be (illegible).  The Junior daughters of the chapter are to have two rooms upstairs and the formal opening of (illegible) in early October will show them completed as well as the remaining upper rooms and the auditorium.

The outside of the house and fence surrounding the grounds will be installed.  The old hot air furnace has been removed and a steam heater will take its place.

What was formerly the wine cellar is now stacked with fire wood, and judging by the amount of the huge logs in the back of the house, the chapter members will not suffer from cold this winter, even should they only make fire in the fireplaces.  The fireplaces were filled yesterday with masses of greenery artistically arranged.  Gay colored nasturtiums brightened the pleasant rooms, and vied with sweet peas, bachelor buttons and petunias on the tea tables.

The service used by the chapter is blue Japanese china in an old-fashioned design which seems entirely suitable in the old house.  Twenty-four tables were in use yesterday, some of which had been placed on the veranda and others attractive set on the lawn under the widespread branches of the trees.

Linen covers for these tables have been sewn and presented to the chapter by one of the members, Miss Mary E. Whiting.  In one corner of each cover Miss Whiting has embroidered the D.A.R. anagram in blue, which matches the china.

The tables were arranged for parties of four, six or more.  Hot or iced tea was served with delicious cinnamon toast, cream cheese, and orange marmalade.  Those who wished could also have ice-cream served in tall glasses with cakes of many kinds, dainty and homemade.

Mrs. William Reed presided in the kitchen, assisted by members of this committee: Mrs. W.R. Spaulding, Mrs. Jessie B. Fowler, Miss Mary E. Whiting, Mrs. Theodore D. Martin and Miss Anna Ballard.  They were helped in serving at the tables by Misses Bertha C. Mann, Florence Carey and Ethel Webb.

Chapter members were encouraged by the number of visitors to the tearoom yesterday, and there is no doubt that it will be a success when automobilists and other passersby learn of this delightful spot where they may rest a while and refresh themselves at a moderate price.

The D.A.R. may well be proud and happy in the possession of its new home, and is not alone in rejoicing over its purchase, for many Worcester persons interested in the preservation of old homesteads are delighted to think that the future of The Oaks is assured for a long time to come.

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