Overlooking the 980 interchange and on the western edge of downtown Oakland is one of the oldest homes in California, where you can have afternoon tea that transports you to the early 1900s.
I’m referring to the Pardee Home, part of the Preservation Park area in Oakland, a cluster of historic homes in a quiet enclave away from the hustle and bustle of the city center. The Pardee Home — built by former Oakland mayor Enoch Pardee and also home to his son, former Gov. George Pardee — stands on its own lot with a water tower and carriage house. It’s a not-so-known museum admirably managed by volunteers.
Guided tours of the home is available by reservations, but probably the most unique way to experience the home is by booking a high tea appointment.
My friend Arlene had read about afternoon tea at the Pardee Home and invited me to join her group for a Sunday tea session (at a cost of $30 per person). When I arrived at the home for our tea session, I was expecting to walk into a large hall with several tables of guests enjoying tea, but instead our group of five entered the dining room to a beautiful spread that was all for us.
It’s no wonder that you have to book way in advance for the tea sessions because you’re the only party for the day. (Seating is for a minimum of six people and maximum of 12.) For two hours, you’re treated to an array of tea sandwiches and other delicious finger foods followed by dishes of desserts, in the seclusion of the historic home.
What’s amazing about our delightful tea is that it’s all put together by volunteers, these wonderful women who pull together these pretty dishes in the tiny old kitchen adjacent to the dining room.
Afterwards we toured the home and all of its collections. While the Pardee Home is a certified museum because the volunteers have studiously curated all the items in the home owned by the Pardee family, it’s not at all fussy or sterile like a museum. Instead, walking through the rooms that have no velvet ropes or items under glass, you feel like you’re just visiting someone’s home after they served you a wonderful meal.
The Pardee Home gave me another perspective of living in Oakland and how this city has changed. But stepping into the house and enjoying tea with friends, it also reminded me of how parts of it still remain.
The deets: The Pardee Home, 672 11th St. (near Castro), Oakland. Call the museum at 510.444.2187 or visit its website to reserve a tea session or book a guided tour.
Here are some shots of the Pardee Home, but you should really check it out yourself if you live in the Bay Area.
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