The Historic Dent House Opens To The Public As Polly Claire’s Tea Parlor

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Chattanooga icon, The Historic Dent House just off Bonny Oaks between Highway 153 and

Interstate 75 is currently undergoing renovations as new owner Rashelle Stafford begins her first

small business. After scouring the scenic city for the right location, Stafford discovered what she

believed was the perfect venue for her vision of a tea room. The sprawling lawns, majestic

Magnolias, and centuries old oak trees that surround the 162 year old plantation home were

among reasons Stafford was persuaded to purchase the Nationally Registered Historic Dent

House, circa 1854, over leasing a space elsewhere.

 

With several months training at the Tennessee Small Business Development Center and Bright

Bridge Women’s Small Business Center, and a vast amount of research, Stafford purchased The

Dent House on July 12, 2016 and renovations began to catapult the last plantation home in

Chattanooga back into a business the public could enjoy once again. Stafford comments,

“Having lived in London, the dream of owning a first class afternoon tea parlor was planted in

my mind long ago. Now named after my own two daughters; Polly and Claire, the dream is

becoming reality. I knew opening Polly Claire’s meant long hours and hard work, I just never

imagined how much fantastic fun it would be.”

 

The business is far more than a tea room though. Polly Claire’s offers full venue rental for large

celebrations including weddings and receptions. A detached building in the rear of the home will

serve grab and go boxed lunches and host a complete gift shop with a full line of fine china, not

sold anywhere else in the area for bridal and birthday registries. Stafford comments, “It is never

too soon to begin collecting china. Tea cups for birthday party gift giving is just a great way to

bring the tea party home.” Once open, Polly Claire’s will use all seven dining rooms to seat

guests for private or corporate gatherings daily from 11-3pm.

 

The Dent house was formerly owned by the neighboring Chattanooga Church and used for

children’s classes and administrative offices. After having been on the market for some months,

the sale of the property brought gain to both parties. The Dent has most notably served as The

Bonny Oaks Children’s Home, among many other uses including a bed and breakfast, military

field hospital, and a meat and three cafe.

 

When asked if any surprises came with the purchased home Stafford answered, “The Pokemon

Go treasures outside our front door perhaps?” The home has been a treasure from the first day. A

back filled cistern and an attic full of vintage Christmas decorations were among some of the

curiosities. More and more Chattanoogans continue to share memories of the Historic Dent

House bringing the home’s history to life. Showcased in two downstairs “necessary rooms”

Stafford honors the Bonny Oaks Children’s Home by displaying pictures.

 

Polly Claire’s menu will include hot and cold southern classics and traditional English favorites

such as soups, salads, sandwiches, and savory items including individual quiche and shepherd’s

pie as well as a four course afternoon tea service complete with scones. All menu items are

created in house daily. Teas have been selected from around the world and include flower petals

and aromatics. Polly Claire’s has private labeled their own tea for resale. The decor is period

appropriate with fresh presentations of antiques and vintage pieces obtained from many months

of auctions.

 

Renovations have been vast including replacing carpet for marble flooring, updating electrical

and plumbing, adding a mandatory grease inceptor, and repairing exterior deterioration, and

cosmetic changes. The theme in every area was to restore the home to its closest original form

while making comfortable conveniences available to guests. All in all contractors have agreed,

the Dent house is in incredible shape for her age.

 

Polly Claire’s has many events planned for the first year including Drink Pink, a breast cancer

benefit, Sweet Monday’s the first Monday every month after hours which showcases themes of

interest from other small business owners. However the biggest demand from the public has been

the opening date. The grand opening gala will include live special music from Chattanooga

Symphony couple; The Reeds. Stafford claims the business will be in full swing very soon and

the momentum on social media continues to grow. The exact opening date will be launched on

Face Book at Polly Claire’s on Saturday, Aug. 20. For more information visit pollyclaires.com,

email owner@pollyclaires, call 423-521-4TEA, visit All4HighTea on Instagram, or Polly

Claire’s on FACE BOOK



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