San Marino

A Renovation Blooms for The Huntington's Rose Garden Tea Room

The flower-adjacent spot, a popular place for luncheons and special occasions, "... is getting a whole new look."

Architectural Resource Group/The Huntington

What to Know

  • The tea room, located inside The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, is temporarily closed
  • Outdoor spaces at the San Marino-based gardens remain open as 2021 begins, but advance reservations are necessary
  • Outdoor dining, and other features, will be added to the 1911 structure, a building designed by celebrated architect Myron Hunt

There are bowling alleys and billiard rooms in this world, and there are tea rooms, too, the sort of pretty places known for crustless sandwiches and dainty desserts.

But finding a crossover between bowling, billiards, and a beautiful spot for socializing and sipping tea?

It's challenging, unless you look in the direction of San Marino.

For one of the most history-rich spots at the history-filled Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens can claim all of those seemingly divergent pastimes on its long résumé, a curriculum vitae that will soon have a few new added accomplishments.

It's the famous and flowery Rose Garden Tea Room we're speaking about here, a built-in-1911, Myron Hunt-designed structure that, yes, served as a billiard room and bowling alley a century ago.

The sports-minded space transformed into a tea room in 1928, just a year after owner Henry Huntington's passing (and the year that the gardens had their public debut).

Since that early change in direction, the tea room has served thousands upon thousands of pots of tea, to thousands upon thousands of people seeking a serene and special dining experience, over the years.

Adding to all of this joy and beauty? The tea-sipping, scone-snacking, and social connection have taken place with a view of the San Marino landmark's celebrated Rose Garden.

But the transformation for this treasured spot for small sandwiches and sophisticated brews continues, for a major renovation is on its way.

There are several parts to the soon-to-come spiffy-up, including a new outdoor dining area.

"The project, developed by The Huntington with Architectural Resources Group, will upgrade the indoor dining space, modernize the kitchen, develop new restrooms and ancillary areas, and create a pavilion on its eastern side, opening onto the Shakespeare Garden for exterior dining service," The Huntington shared in a Jan. 21 statement.

"On the west side of the building, the room that opens out to the Herb Garden will also be renovated and made available for private rentals, in addition to being used for the Tea Room's general service."

The renovation, set at $7.5 million, is due to be completed in 2022; a municipal review, though, will happen long before that, with January 2021 start date. "Most of the funding has been secured," revealed The Huntington.

Keep in mind that the Rose Garden Tea Room is temporarily closed, but The Huntington's outdoor spaces are open.

Advance reservations are necessary, if you'd like to stroll among the property's celebrated roses, and ponder what's to come for the nearby tea room.

But do you have your flower-bedecked hat ready, and maybe a fancy pair of gloves, for the tea room's 2022 return, and its new, but still history-mindful, look?

Perhaps thinking about your perfect afternoon tea ensemble is a good way to pass the months. And, of course, having some lovely tea around the house, too, to sip while daydreaming.

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