Manufacturer: Syracuse China
User: The Pump Room – Ambassador East Hotel
Date of cream pitcher: 1949
Date of plate: 1950s
Notes: Chicago hotelier and restaurateur Ernie Byfield opened The Pump Room in the Ambassador East Hotel on Oct. 1, 1938. It became a Chicago Gold Coast landmark and endured for decades as a popular, highly-acclaimed restaurant.
Byfield's inspiration for The Pump Room came from Booth Tarkington's novel "Monsieur Beaucaire," which highlighted Richard "Beau" Nash's ability to transform the dilapidated 18th century spa of Bath, England into a fashionable resort for aristocrats and actors to mingle.
Seeking to replace the dated Ambassador East dining room — described as having a funeral parlor atmosphere — Byfield hired architect Sam Marx to create his own "celebrity palace." Limited only by his vision and the $35,000 bank loan secured by Byfield, Marx designed the lavish Pump Room.
The old entrance was transformed with glazed doors and a large pump, and the room was filled with crystal chandeliers, white leather booths and two grand murals: one of the great 18th century actress Sarah Siddons, the other a portrait of Beau Nash. The adjectives used to describe the Pump Room after its opening were "exotic," "glamourous,""chic" and "glittering."
After Byfield's death in February 1950, the Ambassador Hotels Corporation opened other Bath-inspired venues, creating the Parade, named after the Bath public walk, the Beau Nash Club, done in royal purple, scarlet and gold, and the Sarah Siddons Walk, reserved for private parties only.
In April 2010, the Ambassador East Hotel was purchased by hotelier Ian Schrager and the Pump Room served its last meal at the end of 2010. In 2011, Schrager undertook a $25 million renovation to update the Chicago Gold Coast landmark, though it is unclear whether Schrager will keep the legendary Pump Room name or change the venue when the renovation is completed.
"Sabers & Suites: The Story of Chicago's Ambassador East," by Rick Kogan, RR Donnelley & Sons Company, Crawford, Indiana, 1983, pages 36-41
Ernie Byfield, Wikipedia
Larry Paul's 20th Century Hotel Research Database
"New Ambassador East Hotel Owner Plans Revival," by Wailin Wong, Chicagobreakingnews.com, April 2, 2010
This Syracuse custom design (#DC-2600) has a white body with a center well depiction of the 18th century actress Sarah Siddons in the foreground and the Royal Crescent of Bath, England in the background. The inscription on the back of the plate reads: "Sarah Siddons incomparable English actress, fused stage and society, frequented the Pump Room and hobnobbed with English aristocracy while playing stock in Bath."
Footnote: On Aug. 10, 1956, Patrick H. Hoy, president of the Hotel Sherman and Hotels Ambassador, Chicago announced an equal interest in National Management, Ltd., of Montreal, Canada, along with its president, John C. Udd. At the time, the National Management, Ltd. operated the Lord Elgin Hotel in Ottawa and was building the Lord Simcoe Hotel in Toronto.
A replica Pump Room was opened at the Lord Simcoe Hotel in 1957. This replica Pump Room used the same Sarah Siddons custom design originally produced by Syracuse China, but the restaurant ware pieces were manufactured by the Grindley Hotel Ware Co. Ltd (England).
Click here to see the Pump Room Sarah Siddons pieces used by the Lord Simcoe Hotel. The Lord Simcoe Hotel also used another W. H. Grindley Hotel Ware design, similar to this Ambassador Hotels plate by Syracuse China for its replica Pump Room, Beau Nash Lounge and Sentry Box venue (later known as the Sentry Box Bar). Click here to see the other W. H. Grindley Hotel Ware design used by the Lord Simcoe Hotel.
For related info:
Pump Room – Ambassador East Hotel by Syracuse China
Ambassador Hotels by Syracuse China
Buttery – Ambassador West Hotel by Syracuse China
Pump Room – Lord Simcoe Hotel – Sarah Siddons by W.H. Grindley
Lord Simcoe Hotel by W.H. Grindley
White cream pitcher photo contributed by matthanne1