Sunday, March 20, 2016

tea party at the Pardee

I met Ilene, Sofia, Anabel, Pam, and Wallis at the Pardee Home for tea on the first day of spring.
It was a spectacular spread of homemade treats in one of Oakland's most historic homes. 
Enoch Pardee came west for the gold rush and built this house in 1969. He became mayor of Oakland, as did his son George who was the governor of California during the 1906 earthquake.
George's daughters lived in the home until their deaths in the 1980s.
The furnishings are almost entirely original. Thanks to a trust, almost nothing has been touched or changed.
Tea is homemade and prepared by volunteers for one exclusive party at a time. 
We dressed up and read a selection of poetry
some by famous poets like Mary Oliver and e.e. cummings, some homemade.
We learned that bone china is made from bones!
After high tea and poetry reading, a docent gave us a private tour and introduced us to the Pardee family history. 
Carlton Watkins was a friend of the Pardees and gave George this lamp, with Yosemite waterfalls printed on glass. Watkins' studio was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. 
I loved these lamps too.
And this lampshade, which is just like the one Cynthia gave me, from her mother:
Mary Pardee was quite a collector, and the home is filled with a huge multicultural assortment of teapots, candlesticks, and scrimshaw. 
This cabinet is all from Alaska.
They also collected musical instruments. There's a Steinway player piano and this Symphonion, which is like a giant music box with changeable records.
I'm old enough to remember rotary telephones although apparently lots of school visitors don't.
Helen Pardee, the last member of the family, died on Thanksgiving day, 1981.
Upstairs is a marvelous collection of fashions and crafts.
Including hats and gowns worn to George's inauguration in Sacramento. I'd love to see the hats!
The top hat is made of beaver fur!
In the master bedroom.
This crazy quilt was a wedding present. A scrap of Mary Lincoln's gown is included.
The house is also filled with books. My grandparents had a hygrometer (my grandmother was obsessed with humidity, a losing battle in Florida).
We really felt like we were stepping back in time. You'd never know you were feet from the freeway and only blocks from downtown Oakland.
More teacups, and an older phone.
We loved these chapbooks, which were literally about chaps. One of the sisters recorded opinions about men she dated.
The storage space was filled with toys, paper dolls, swords, and human skulls.
And these children's books.
All in all, a wonderful way to celebrate and welcome spring. Highly recommended, whether you're hungry or just interested in local history.