Monday, April 9, 2012

Ladies Dining Room, St. Nicholas Hotel

Ladies Dining Room, St. Nicholas Hotel (c. 1905)
Ladies Dining Room, St. Nicholas Hotel (Victoria Building)

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
To date, we've visited a variety of ladies dining rooms or cafes associated with some of  the "better" hotels and restaurants. So far, most of these have been in Chicago (Hotel Bismarck, Hotel Kaiserhof, Tom Jones Restaurant) or New York (Hotel McAlpin), but not all of them. As we've explained, women--especially unescorted women--were typically not welcomed in nineteenth century eating and drinking establishments. This was true whether it was a working man's saloon or a gentleman's club. As a result, separate facilities for the ladies arose.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Here the blog is really interesting as it shares the things like ladies dining room, ladies cafe and so on. These kind of hotels available in Chicago also. Thanks for sharing.
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