Monday, July 7, 2014

Antiques, Tea, and Choo-Choo's in Chattanooga, Tennessee

When I was a young girl, my family often vacationed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where several of my father's siblings lived.  On one of our trips south we stopped in Chattanooga, Tennessee to see tourist attractions, Ruby Falls and Lookout Mountain, but that was the extent of visiting Chattanooga.

As Jerry and I wound our way down to Celebration, Florida - near Kissimmee [where two of our children and their families were joining us on Friday, June 20th for a family vacation], we allowed two extra days to stop at places I had been wanting to visit.  So after the two destinations in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge on Wednesday, June 18th, we headed 143 miles southwest, and arrived in Chattanooga 2 1/2 hours later.

Our motel was the Fairfield Inn on Mack Street and Ringgold - and as an unplanned "bonus" an antique district was directly across the street with eight antique stores all in one convenient location. It was antique paradise! Unfortunately I only had time to hurry through three of the stores.

In Picket Fence Antiques, I got a cute "Kitty Cucumber" figurine [pictured below] for my granddaughter, Tiffany.  She is celebrating her 23rd birthday today. She loves kittens and puppies, and asked for either one for her birthday. She's in her last year of school to become a registered nurse, however, and has little time to care for a pet, so I got this porcelain kitty to fulfill her birthday wish! ;-)  

I had never heard of Kitty Cucumber figurines previously, and was amazed to see so many of them on E-bay when I returned home - but none with a tea tray. Most Kitty Cucumber figurines were made in the 1990's and are by Schmid.  Are you familiar with Kitty Cucumber figurines?

My main purpose for going to Chattanooga, was to visit the English Rose Tea Room.  Several tea rooms that I've wanted to see have closed before I got to visit them, so I was happy the English Rose Tea Room is still going strong after 17 years of business. 

The tea room is open  Tues. - Sat., 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., and we got there around 11:30 on Thursday morning, June 19th.  I've heard nothing but good things about this tea room which recently won the "Talk of the Town Award" given to the top 3% of companies across the country for customer satisfaction and being a favorite in the community.

It's located at 1401 Market Street, across the street from the former railroad station.

Established in 1997, it is an authentic British Tea Room, housed in the foyer of the old Grand Hotel built in 1897 to accommodate passengers using the newly opened railroads to the south.   It's delightfully quaint!

Below is a framed postcard of the hotel that sits by the cash register inside the tea room.

We were directed to our table by a hostess, and Tracy was our hospitable and efficient server.

There were many unique things to see inside the tea room, such as the original tile floor...

Treadle sewing machine bases that were repurposed into table pedestals...

And even a British soldier wearing a bearskin hat!

~ Menu~

We oped to go with the Afternoon Tea.  I ordered their house tea, which was British PG Tips.

Tracy took our picture...

And delivered the tiered server laden with yummy tea food!

The sandwiches were Salmon, Egg Salad, Cucumber, and Tomato & Cheese.

I ordered a Lemon Scone with Lemon Curd and Devonshire Cream.  It was served on Old Country Roses china.  Jerry ordered a Raisin Scone.  Delicious!

I asked Tracy if the owner was there, and to my delight Sharon Gilley came to our table and talked with us for awhile.  She is the tea room's second owner, purchasing it in 2011 from Angela Becksvoort, a retired nurse. Hoffman Media [publishers of Tea Time Magazine] will be coming out with a new book this September called, "Tea and Sweets," and The English Rose Tea Room will be featured in it.  I'll definitely be watching for this new book. On one of the tea room walls hangs a 2005 picture taken when The English Rose was featured in Tea Time Magazine's fall issue.  If you like dining with Queen Elizabeth II, her portrait hangs on another wall.

I have all the issues of Tea Time Magazine, so I couldn't wait until I got back home to look up the article.  Angela [original owner] is a native of the British colony, Zimbabwe, and a long-time resident of Surrey. Hence her determination for the tea room to have an "unmistakable" British influence, although the building's grand heritage is highlighted too. Sharon [current owner] has maintained the British emphasis. Our server, Tracy, has longevity with the tea room as she's pictured in the magazine article [top right].

[Owner, Sharon Gilley - seated, and Me]

It was lunch time, and soon all the tables were full, including four male patrons. You know a tea room is good when you see men patronizing it!  I didn't ask what the seating capacity was, but I'm guessing around 40.

We had our desserts boxed to go, and unfortunately I neglected to write down what they were, but trust me, they were good!

There's a lovely retail area at the front of the tea room.  A box of Carol Wilson note cards came home with me [pictured below].

Sharon walked outside with us as we left, and took another picture of Jerry and me.

Thank you for a wonderful visit, Sharon.  Best wishes for continued success! 

If you're ever passing through Chattanooga be sure to pay The English Rose a visit!  It's a lovely tea room, and you'll enjoy your tea experience there.

Despite being a hot summer day, I wanted to walk across the street to the Terminal Station before leaving the area.  The station was completed in 1909 and closed in 1970. The Chattanooga Choo-Choo Company purchased the building, restored it, and reopened it again as a hotel and restaurant in 1978.  In 1974 it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. 

[Exterior Front Facade]

The first train leaving Cincinnati for Chattanooga in 1880 was nicknamed the "Chattanooga Choo-Choo."  It opened the first major link in public transportation from the north to the south.  The Choo-Choo was operated by the Cincinnati Southern Railroad - America's first municipal railway system.

The Victorian train cars are available to sleep in. Wouldn't that be a fun and unique one night sleeping experience while visiting the City?

Gardens in the back of Terminal Station.

~ The clock says "Choo-Choo Time" ~

~ Inside Terminal Station ~

I had to take a photo of the Ladies' Room because most of the interior was original to when the building was a train station.  

Tracy told us how much there is to see and do in Chattanooga, and I look forward to returning when we have time to spend a few days.  With a granddaughter going to a university in Nashville this fall, I'm sure more trips to Tennessee will be in our future.

*  *  *

Today I'm linking to Antiques and Teacups blog for Tuesday Cuppa Tea


  1. I love The English Rose! Next time you visit Chattanooga, let me know and I'll meet you there for tea.

  2. Lovely tea room Phyllis, you're lucky Jerry is willing to visit them with you. Glenn will, but with reluctance. :-) Very nice that you met the owner too and a couple of nice photos of the two of you.

  3. Perfect! What's antiquing without tea! The tearoom looks fabulous!

  4. What a grand time you had. I have never been to Chattanooga but probably should put it on list. We do get to Bristol and Knoxville on occasion.

  5. Looks like a lovely tea room, with delicious food. And all those antique stores! How fun!

  6. So nice to meet you, and join you for tea with Tea Cup Tuesday. Your Kitty Cucumber is charming.

  7. A couple of years ago Alex and I were supposed to have tea there, but a winter snowstorm (of all things!) made us cancel the trip. Would LOVE to meet you for tea here if you come down to visit your granddaughter!

  8. That Ladies' Room looks very similar to one at the Henry Ford Museum - Dearborn, MI.
    Marble walls and wooden stall doors and black & white checkered floor.


Thank you for visiting my blog. If you would like to leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you!