Tea rooms were enormously popular in the first half of the 20th century and are a fascinating aspect of women’s history. Most were owned or managed by women and in the 1920s especially, tea rooms became the fashionable places for women to meet friends in small towns, big cities and suburbs. Several flourished in Maplewood and South Orange, including the well-known Washington Inn.
At a Durand-Hedden program, historic interpreter Maureen O'Connor Leach took on the voice of a 1925 matron who was planning to open a Tea Room, and provided the audience with a view into the challenges faced by women who were stepping out of the home and into the business world. “Maisie’s” monologue referenced primary sources. She wore a tea frock sewn from a period pattern and used historically accurate accessories.