ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
Preceding the Industrial Age was the Victorian Era of the 1800s, when men were gentlemen and women were ladies.
It was a time when Victoria was the reigning queen of England, chivalry was alive, politeness and etiquette were taught to children, and the drink of the day was tea-served by the lady of the home to a party of a selected few friends.
That feeling of grandeur has been recreated in a relaxed atmosphere at Three Sisters Victorian Tea & Treasures-a walk-in tea room, floral boutique, antique emporium and gift shop in a spacious retail space at 105 N. Main in Canton.
“I’ve always loved the Victorian period,” said owner Cheryl Everhart. “It’s just a different time. If I could be born again, it would be then.”
Nurtured by the memories of childhood tea parties with sisters Maryl Williams and Julie Butler, Everhart began offering yearly Victorian teas about a decade ago at Cheryl’s Cafe in Canton.
But after 19 years toiling at her restaurant, Everhart found a buyer and the opportunity to develop her passion more fully.
“For years, It’s been kind of there for me,” Everhart said. “It’s been my dream-I just thought about it forever. And when I had the cafe sold, I thought, ‘OK, that will stay, and Canton won’t lose it. And then I can pursue this.'”
What Everhart has created is a special environment that is quickly becoming known in Canton as a unique treasure and a must-see experience.
And after a grand opening in late July, visitors outside Canton can now discover the excitement, too.
The amenities include a tea room open daily; a theme room for children’s parties; a theme room and facilities for meetings, special occasions and private dinner parties; and retail space offering antiques, gifts, crafts, floral arrangements and special-occasion balloons.
The stage is instantly set as visitors step into the foyer of the remodeled store. Adorning the wall to the left, four framed photos of Everhart and her sisters capture the youthful joy of life-including a photo of the three having a tea party.
Sissy’s Tea for Tots Room, located just past the foyer, is next as visitors begin to explore the store.
Four child-size tables can accommodate from six to 12 children, whose parents want to treat them to a private theme party unlike any other.
A notebook of party possibilities includes options such as a Princess Party, Teddy Bear Party, Pirate Party, Alice In Wonderland and Peter Rabbit. But special requests are welcome, too.
“And there are four different-size parties they can do per person,” Everhart said of the options ranging from $3.95 per person for the mini party to $5.95 per person for the deluxe.
The deluxe includes finger-sandwiches, beverages and sweets.
“It comes with party decorations according to the theme chosen, choice of the menu, a game and two hours of party time,” Everhart said.
As the casual tour continues, visitors enter the Lilac Room-a formal tea room for special private parties, dinners and theme teas held twice a month.
A fireplace on one wall beckons visitors to enter the lilac-hued room. They can sit at tables covered with tablecloths and browse through Everhart’s scrapbooks of the Victorian era.
“I love that,” Everhart said about her scrapbooks filled with historic photos and information.
“It is just a completely different era and life than what we live today. And the hope in this-I want people to come in, sit and visit with their friends, and take time to relax and really enjoy life.”
Reservations can be made to attend twice-a-month theme teas held in the Lilac Room. They will typically include a light lunch, decorations, china and linen for a price of $5.95 per person, except for a free tea held in November.
Two teas scheduled for this month are a Harvest Tea and a Halloween Tea. The Harvest Tea is come-and-go from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11. It will feature a fall buffet, hot apple cider, hot tea or coffee, and casual dress is appropriate.
The Halloween Tea for adults will be one-sitting-only at noon, Saturday, Oct. 25. Billed as a “spooktacular event,” it will include a pumpkin contest for best-carved or decorated pumpkin, a costume contest, a program on Halloween traditions and a special discount for those in costume.
Everhart said she wants to get the word out that these monthly tea parties include a light lunch instead of just desserts as in years past at her former restaurant.
“It’s like a buffet lunch,” she said. “So people could actually make a whole light lunch out of that.”
With the exception of the free November Victorian Tea, theme tea parties are $5.95 per adult. If appropriate for children, the theme tea will cost $3.95 per child when accompanied by an adult.
For groups of six or more, special-occasion and private parties can also be booked throughout the day or evening, seven days a week, in the Lilac Room.
“We do not do lunch or dinner on a daily basis,” Everhart said. “They are by private-reservation only.”
Reserved in advance, parties can range from a simple mini tea for $3.95 per person to a private dinner party for $8.95 per person.
“The mini party is for a group that just wants to come in for a birthday, get together or an afternoon tea,” Everhart said.
At a dinner party for any occasion, Everhart will cook up tantalizing creations in her newly remodeled kitchen, and family members will help where needed.
The menu entree includes a choice of roast beef, roast pork, salisbury steak, Swiss steak, baked steak, meat loaf or honey-glazed ham. Diners also have a choice of one side, such as mashed potatoes or scalloped potatoes; one salad, such as garden salad or slaw; one vegetable, such as green beans or corn; one dessert, such as cherry cheesecake or chocolate cake; and a beverage.
As visitors continue the tour, they’ll find antiques, handmade gifts and craft items in a spacious area on the north side of the building.
“I have flowers on consignment from a shop in McPherson right now,” Everhart said. “So we do offer fresh flowers and plants.”
And she also has a helium machine to sell balloons for special occasions or use for decorations at her theme parties.
As the tour concludes, a must stop is to relax with a beverage of choice and a selection of homemade-sweets in the Rose Room. This walk-in tea room is open during regular store hours: from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,Tuesday through Saturday; and closing time on Wednesday is 8 p.m.
The house tea is Lipton, but visitors can also choose from a variety of eight other flavors of tea. Coffee, lemonade, ice tea and soft drinks are also available.
During one day in mid-September, visitors to the Rose Room could chose from such items as chocolate zucchini cake, zucchini bread, sugar cookies, coffee cake, lemon cake, sherbet and ice cream.
At special occasions, the following recipe might be used to delight guests.
1 C. flour
3 Tsp. baking powder
1/2 Tsp. salt
2 Tbs. sugar
1/4 C. butter
1/2 C. cream
2 eggs, beaten
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Sift together flour with baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut butter into sifted mixture. Combine eggs and cream and add together. Pat to 3/4 inches thick.
Cut into squares or triangles, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375 degrees until lightly brown, about 20 minutes.
Serve hot with any jam, preserves or traditional tea spreads.
Sisters Williams and Butler have full-time jobs elsewhere, but their presence is felt at the store on a daily basis, Everhart said.
“This is all of ours, because Julie does do all the sewing for our clothes, and she makes baby quilts and pillows. And Maryl embroiders tea towels.”
Butler has sewn Victorian -style gowns, which are often worn by the sisters as they host teas.
It’s all part of the ambiance created to welcome visitors to a special place in time recreated along Main Street Canton-a time of “grandeur, style and friendship unlike we have today,” Everhart said.
For reservations or more information, Everhart can be reached at 620-628-4484, or send her an e-mail at email@example.com.