|Ladies Dining Room, St. Nicholas Hotel (c. 1905)|
Location: 407 North Eighth Street (or 819 Locust Street), St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Opened: Built in 1893, remodeled in 1905 after severe fire
Closed: Not clear when ladies dining room closed, but building was demolished in 1974 for a parking lot.
|St. Nicholas Hotel - before 1905 fire|
But these were not strictly women-only spaces. In fact, illustrations and at least one woman's testimony suggest that these spaces were filled with their fair share of male "escorts"--"escorts" who may have outnumbered the women on at least some ocassions.
However, I still like to peer into old photographs or drawings of these places, these dining rooms where women (of the carriage class to be sure) were sequestered off from the "main" (male) dining areas. As this hotel was designed by the famous architect Louis Sullivan, the ladies dining room is certainly an elegant and lovely affair. And if I imagine taking tea there with my closest lady friends, I certainly sense that a perfectly pleasant afternoon is at hand. Even if it's in a room borne from segregation and the male domination of public space. An interesting paradox, that....Even a bird cage can be beautiful.