When it's 103 degrees outside and oppressive heat makes you cranky, the cool refine charm of Sweet Violets Tea and Antiques offers welcome respite.
On such a day in early July I meet with Sweet Violets owner Debbie Woodroof in the quiet cool tea house formerly known as the Peony Tea House located at West Wayne and Fairfield in Downtown Fort Wayne. Decorated in hues of green, blue and lavender it beckons its guests to sit and sip one of the fine custom blend teas and enjoy an offering from the full menu of sandwiches, soups, salads and pastries all served on china with linens. You may purchase from the selection of packaged gourmet teas including a full range of black and green teas, as well as tea with fruit and herbal infusions. Tea Master Bruce Richardson of Elmwood Inn Fine Teas, Perryville, Kentucky custom blends teas for Debbie. Antique crystal, china, dolls and small antique furniture pieces may be purchased too.
I first met owner Debbie when we are both waiting to cross the street to attend a Downtown Improvement District (DID) meeting at the Chamber of Commerce last spring. Walking to the same destination we exchange information and sit at the same table. Debbie's excitement of opening the tea house and how she will make it her own is contagious. We find we have similar life paths. We both graduated in the early years of Northrop (Debbie -1974) and Wayne (Lois - 1975), we both remember the vibrant downtown of the 1960s and we both now work downtown and are excited about the dramatic changes made over the past few years and downtown's future.
Debbie's vision to make Sweet Violets the premiere tea house in Fort Wayne has now come to fruition. The grand opening is June 20. The days and hours of operation will be Wednesday – Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Reservations are preferred by calling 260-426-4832.
Not only a certified tea specialist, Debbie is also certified in etiquette through well-known etiquette expert Dorthea Johnson. The Tea House can be reserved for bridal and baby showers, birthday parties, and children's tea parties.
When we first met, Debbie is excited to learn about my business Born Again Quilts. Debbie has a 1930s-1940s basket quilt top featuring lavender fabrics: The perfect addition to hang in the Tea House. Debbie and her mother come to visit my studio and when I view the top I instantly know what fabric would make the perfect back: violets on a white background. I do offer other fabric choices but as I suspect, the first choice is the best. The top has some age spots on it and I ask Debbie if she wants me to attempt to remove them. She declines. Good for her! It deserves to have the beauty of its age shine through and be hand quilted-just like the original maker most likely would have done.
So on that oppressively hot day in early July, I sit down and ask Debbie how exactly the quilt came to her. She relates to me one of her Tri Kappa Sorority sister's Grandmother pieced the top. Last September this sorority sister has a garage sale and Debbie offers to assist. While setting up Debbie notices the top and its various shades of lavender. Debbie at the time was already thinking of using "violet" in the name of her future tea house. She purchases the top for $5.50 and in the back of her mind plans to have it quilted and surprise her sorority sister upon its completion. Debbie shows me the place of honor she's picked out for it where it too will add to the quiet ambience of this elegant tea house.
I can report the hand quilting is underway. Slow progress in this heat for certain.
Congratulations to Debbie Woodroof for bringing her dream to downtown Fort Wayne!
Both Sweet Violets Tea and Antiques and Born Again Quilts will be open for the July 28 Downtown Trolley Shopping Day, Saturday July 28.
Lois Eubank is the owner of Born Again Quilts a restoration studio located upstairs at 124 W. Wayne St.
You may contact her through The Waynedale News.