Christmas At The Walnut Room
Aglow with splendor, it rose before me and I am astonished at the sheer size and grandeur of it
all! The Christmas spirit comes alive for me and my mother and my grandmother as we now
make our yearly trek to the city to see Christmas at The Walnut Room.
I stand and look up feeling almost dizzy, there are 6,600 lights and over 2,000 silver and gold
ornaments on the Christmas tree that stands some 45 feet in the center of The Walnut Room
main dining room. My eyes dart around, there is so much to see in every direction. It was
lavishly decorated everywhere!
An icon in the city of Chicago, The Walnut Room is considered to be the very first restaurant to
be located in the inside of a large department store. In 1907 when Marshall Field’s opened South
Tea Room, it was to help the lady shoppers. One version of this story exists that appears to be the
most valid is the scenario that an employee that goes by the name of Mrs Herring, felt bad for
the women shoppers because in those times, it was not allowed that a lady be unescorted
without a man in a restaurant. So Mrs. Herring made her home made pot pies and was serving
them out of a Marshall Field’s stockroom! Since getting caught red handed, Marshall Field’s
made amends and history when they created The South Tea Room. This enabled a lady to
continue to shop without ever leaving the store! The pot pie was so popular the restaurant could
not keep up with the demand!
This iconic pot pie is still on the menu today!
The interior of the main dining room of The Walnut Room was filled with Circassin Walnut
paneling from Russia. The beautiful chandeliers are crystal filled from Austria. It was plush with
warm inviting rugs and fountains trail tranquility. The interior was so popular, in 1930 Marshall
Field’s actually changed the name of The South Tea Room to The Walnut Room in honor of its
walnut paneling! From late November through early January the ominous 45 foot balsam fir
is adorned in the center of The Walnut Room. Up until 1960, it was a real tree! Of course today
it still remains an artificial tree adorned with stunning splendor; many of the ornaments
handmade by employees over the years! The Walnut Room still offers traditional English Style
tea service regularly. They use loose leaf teas from Whittard’s Tea of England.
I am personally so glad I have had the opportunity to have gone to an iconic destination for many
years and those experiences are held close to my heart fondly. Today, the Macy’s Department
Store owns the now defunct Marshall Field’s. They have continued on with the traditional The
Walnut Room and its menu items.
It is located at 111 N. State. Street, Chicago IL 60602.
It is listed on the National Historic Landmarks and is also listed as Registered Historic Places.
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