Time For Tea

Hotel Lenhart Serves Final Tea Of The Season

The Hotel Lenhart in Bemus Point opened their doors to visitors for a Victorian tea, celebrating the history of the hotel and the era it came from. P-J photos by Katrina Fuller

Guests at the Hotel Lenhart partied like it was 1880 on Thursday afternoon.

The last tea of the season saw the dining room filled with a proper Victorian tea, complete with scones, cucumber sandwiches and, of course, tea.

John Lenhart Johnston, co-owner and general manager of the Hotel Lenhart in Bemus Point, said the Victorian tea is a popular event at the hotel.

“We started doing this back in 2005 when we had our 125th anniversary, and we were trying to bring back the Victorian Era,” Johnston said. “At that time, we were doing almost one a week. Now, we’re doing two in the summer and maybe an extra one.”

He said the event is based on a traditional afternoon tea where scones, candies and small sandwiches are served. Guests make reservations, and groups are seated together in twos. Johnston said at the beginning, a brief introduction is given with some history on the hotel. After tea is finished, a tour of the hotel is available.

Katie Burlett and her mother-in-law, Francella Burlett, visited the Hotel Lenhart for afternoon tea on Thursday afternoon.

“Sometimes, we’ll have an extended story if we have something special,” Johnston said. “The hotel started in 1880 with my great grandfather. I’m the fourth generation.”

The first hotel burned down in 1890, then the current hotel was built and was back up in operation by the next summer in 1891. The tour of the building goes throughout the hotel and even into the kitchen.

“Not much has changed in the 137 years now,” Johnston said. “Sometimes, if we have small groups, we’ll go upstairs and see some rooms.”

He said the guests enjoy learning about how things worked throughout history and how they are run now.

“It kind of commemorates the history of the hotel,” Johnston said. “We’re trying to bring back the tradition of the Victorian era, and particularly, the time in Chautauqua from 1880 to 1925 when there were hotels everywhere.”

Some might miss the modern amenities, but a majority of guests enjoy the historic feeling of the building, he said.

“We don’t have heat, we don’t have air conditioning and we don’t have phones in the rooms,” Johnston said. “A lot of people tell us, ‘Don’t change it.’ We have families that have been coming here for years, and their children and grandchildren are coming now.”

He said a visit to the hotel is like traveling back in time because it “hasn’t changed much.”

“You can look at pictures from 60 or 70 years ago, and the desk is still the same,” Johnston said. “People comment that ‘You guys have the original hinges on the doors.’ Why change them? They’re not broken.”

The hotel is open through Labor Day and the cocktail lounge will be open for the next two weekends, he said. Breakfast is available daily to hotel guests as well as the public from 8-10 a.m. during the week, from 8-11 a.m. on Saturdays and on Sundays from 8 a.m. to noon.

The Hotel Lenhart is located at 20 Lakeside Dr. in Bemus Point. For more information on visit www.hotellenhart.com or call 386-2715.