25 March 2010

Old St. Andrew's Parish Tea Room

Old St. Andrew's Parish Church, Hwy 61, Charleston, S.C.

It's the last week for the charming southern phenomenon that is the Old St. Andrew's Tea Room and I made it there in the nick of time. It's always like old home week. The last time I went the Red Hat Ladies swept in and took over. This year the Montessori school children all dressed up for the occasion sat at a long table in the center of the room and asked about the "mud pie".

The limited menu is cooked and served by church volunteers. She-crab soup, chicken or shrimp paste sandwiches on white bread. Orange congealed salad and ice tea. It used to be that you had to whisper to the server dressed in historic dress that you'd like a piece of Miss Arlene's coconut cake set aside for you, but now they just put it on the menu. Augusta Nadol (above) is one of my hospital volunteers as well and she told us they served 222 lunches yesterday. Amazing.
History: In the late 1940's, shortly after the church was reopened, a group of women often spent all day cleaning and preparing the church for worship services. They had their lunch on the lawn, and soon began to share their lunches with tourists who stopped to see the old church. Because there were no restaurants in the area at that time, and as a way of raising funds for renovation, the ladies began selling coffee, lemonade, and sandwiches to tourists. Thus the Saint Andrew's Tea Room was born. Today waitresses are dressed in late 18th century costumes and serve a full lunch in the Parish Hall. A full gift shop is available and tours of the historic church are available.

* I took the tea room photos today but slid in a church picture from last year. The azaleas aren't quite in bloom yet.