Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tea Room Postcard #14 -- Younkers Department Store Tea Room (Des Moines, Iowa)

About the time last Saturday's tea room postcard was published, I received the terrible news that the Younkers Department Store Tea Room in Des Moines, Iowa had suffered a devastating fire during the night. In their story about the Younkers fire, USA Today noted, "It was renowned for its elegant Tea Room, which featured oak tables and chintz draperies. The Tea Room hosted a who's who of Des Moines inside the anchor of a vibrant downtown shopping scene." Renovations of the building began last fall, with plans to convert it into apartments and reopen the tea room. A report in the Des Moines Register said the tea room was not as badly damaged as other parts of the building, but it was unclear if the building will be considered a total loss. So after this sad news out of Des Moines, I thought today it would be appropriate to focus on some happy memories of the tea room, as shown in the postcards here. This one, from 1942, has writing on the front in very faint pencil, and the sender says she'll meet the recipient, Mr. Graham Walker of Sheridan, Wyoming, at a hotel in Rapid City.

On the back of the card there is also this sweet message from a child: "Dear Dedde, how are you? We saw some better Escalator than the May [another department store]. Buttons is a good dog. But when we took him to the dog place. Love, Maurine." (Or Waurine, maybe?)

The second postcard is postally unused, but I find it interesting the chairs appear to be the same as in the first postcard, they're just different colors!

My blogging friend Bernideen in Colorado went to Bible College in Des Moines and twice attended events at the Younkers Tea Room in those days. She asked me last week for a link to a Younkers Tea Room recipe I posted several years ago on this blog, and it's this Chicken Salad if any of you would like to see it as well. I also made the tea room's Wilted Spinach Salad last year, and that recipe is here.


  1. I remember the post when someone advised of the fire and I hope it will be rebuilt. Interesting to note the chairs in the two postcards and a sentence about Buttons that went nowhere.
    I made your shared recipe for the chocolate pecan pie, hubby Glenn loves it!

  2. Those postcards are extra special now!

  3. It looks like there are some pencil notes on the top and left side of the card, too? I wonder when the second card was done -- the first one was sent in, what ... 1942? I'm not sure if I'm seeing the postmark correctly. :)

  4. Loved seeing the garden room in Younkers Tea Room. It felt like Spring time. Love seeing these old postcards, keep them coming.

  5. This is sad news about the Younkers Tea Room fire in Des Moines. I never made it to the tea room, however, I did buy a fur coat at Younkers 39 years ago which was before the raised consciousness of not buying real fur came about. Now, if I needed a "fur" coat it would be manmade, however, living in Puerto Rico does not require a fur coat. How did I get from tea room to fur coat? Love your posts and look forward to every one of them. Blessings, Nancy

  6. How tragic about the fire. I hope they're able to restore the building. You're probably especially glad that you included it in Dainty Dining.

  7. Sad to read about the fire. It was a very elegant tea room by the looks of the post card.

  8. So glad you had these postcards, Angela - the tearoom looks so elegant. I hope they have a chance to rebuild. That was a sweet message on the postcard.

    I love this series! Thank you,

  9. Love these vintage tea room postcards!

  10. Just now reading this...Dec. 28, 2014. From a post I found dated Aug. 2014, looks like they are rebuilding. Yay! Also found a fun bit of history on another blog:
    03 January, 2014
    I grew up going to Younker's with not only my mother, but her mother. We would occasionally go to the Tea Room for special occasions, but more often to the coffee shop in the basement. Younker's used to have a bargain basement and I remember getting "lost" on one trip with my mother there. I went up on the stairs (where the railings had permanent groves from the ladies' rings who used those stairs), and I was able to see my mom's head so I found her. I was a preschooler, but I so remember the fright of being "lost." As a youngster, I took "Charm Classes" in the Tea Room, and learned some social graces. As I got older and began working downtown in an office, I would shop and browse at Younker's almost daily. I would purchase gifts there for friends and relatives. I shopped there for Christmas. I enjoyed lunch there a couple of times a week in the Tea Room. I loved the Younker's Chicken Salad and the beef barley soup. I was and still am so dismayed that the downtown store closed. I am now retired, and since they "overruled" the opening of a Younker's in Ankeny, and they closed the east side Younkers, traveling over 20 miles to shop at a Younker's just does not excite me, so after being a loyal and loving Younker's customer for well over 60 years, I no longer shop there."


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