Ladies Library Cream Tea resumes

By Barb Vortman, Cream Tea Chair

After a three-year hiatus, Cream Tea time is returning to the Schoolcraft Ladies’ Library with a Sept. 16 fundraiser.

Tea time has always been integral to the Ladies’ Library. I imagine the ladies of Schoolcraft gathered for tea and refreshments in 1879 while they discussed creating an organization to promote women’s education. And we continue the tradition today by serving tea at each meeting.

In 2008, two sisters from Schoolcraft, Harriet Swartz and Nancy Rafferty, got an idea after visiting a tea room in Alabama. They suggested a Cream Tea experience as a fundraising event for the Library. Members pitched in with enthusiasm and now our Cream Teas are favorite events for our members and the public.

The theme of this year’s tea is “Midday Soiree.” The Ladies’ Library building becomes the beautiful, decorated “Red Brick Tea Room” with linen-covered tables and fine china and silverware. Three courses on tiered plates are served: dainty sandwiches and other savories; scones, clotted cream, and jams; and an assortment of pastries, cakes, and other sweets. And, of course, a variety of delicious accompanying teas!  

Dressing up for the occasion is not mandatory, but most guests love to wear something pretty and even show up wearing a fancy hat, in true “soiree” fashion.

This event serves as a major fundraiser for Ladies’ Library. Our only sources of income are members’ dues, which are purposely kept at a minimal amount; donations from generous friends; and our fund-raising events. The tea is definitely a group effort, with every one of our members contributing to its success. Funds raised support our programs and provide for the upkeep of our 127-year-old building.

We are excited for the return of the Cream Tea after a three-year COVID hiatus. Thanks to previous fundraising efforts we were able to use the “down time” to complete plaster restoration, front door refurbishment, and other much needed repairs to our building.

There will be two two-hour seatings on Saturday, September 16, starting at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The cost is $18 per person. Tables are set for four guests. A group of four can reserve a table or people can sign up as singles or groups of two or three and we will seat them with others to make up a table of four and introduce them to new friends!

For reservations and more information, I can be contacted by phone 269-251-9475 or email

Tea has a long history. It was first brought from the Far East to Europe in the early 1600s and soon became a popular drink. Beginning in the 1700s, High Tea was served in English homes most evenings. It wasn’t the fancy “tea with the queen’ type of service people think of. Instead, it was a heavy supper of meat, bread, cheese, and, of course, tea, served to the common workers after a long day in the fields.

The simpler and lighter Cream Tea of scones, clotted cream, and jams became popular in England in the 1850s. Anna, Duchess of Bedford, soon popularized Afternoon Tea with three courses, including Cream Tea scones. Afternoon Tea is a practice still followed as the traditional tea party.

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