Countdown Begins for the Reopening of The Huntington’s Historic Tea Room

Published on Apr 20, 2023

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens is set to reopen its iconic, historic Rose Garden Tea Room to the public on May 24, 2023, following a three-year closure. Dining reservations can be made beginning May 10 through OpenTable.

The Rose Garden Tea Room closed in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and then it underwent a major 18-month renovation.

Building renovations included the restoration of the front of the original 1911 building; a sweeping new outdoor dining area on the east side, facing the Shakespeare Garden; and the improvement of functionality in its service areas. Additionally, on the west side of the building, the room that faces the Herb Garden has been renovated and will be made available for private rentals. At capacity, the entire space can serve 164 people, including the front room known as the Tea Room, the Herb Room on the building’s west side, and the outdoor Shakespeare Pavilion on the building’s east side. The project was developed by The Huntington with Architectural Resources Group.

The Rose Garden Tea Room will continue its elegant tea service with a selection of teas, seasonal house-made scones, and a variety of savory and sweet offerings, including smoked salmon with dill cream cheese and caviar; banoffee tart with dulce de leche, banana jam, and caramel crunch; and buckwheat financier with lemon pistachio glaze. A higher-end option includes champagne and such items as lobster salad in phyllo with Maldon sea salt and shaved black truffles.

The $11.2 million project broke ground in late 2021 and has been funded entirely through philanthropic gifts.

“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 extraordinary tea experience. The Shakespeare Pavilion expands our capacity and creates a fluid space between indoors and outdoors that our visitors will love.”

Built in 1911, the Rose Garden Tea Room was designed by architect Myron Hunt to serve as a billiard room and bowling alley for Huntington founder Henry E. Huntington. Hunt 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 Rose Garden Tea Room is part of the historic core of The Huntington,” said Stephen Farneth, the project architect for the Rose Garden Tea Room’s renovation. “Everything at The Huntington is about indoors and outdoors and so, with the Rose Garden Tea Room project, we thought it was important to 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.

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 since then.

For questions regarding reservations and services, please email The Huntington is located at 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, California, 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles. Visitor information:

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