Today Dear Husband and I celebrated the end of two weeks of night shifts with a date for Sherlock-Holmes-themed high tea with the local Britsburgh Anglophile group. It was hosted at the Omni William Penn Hotel, the fanciest hotel in the world when it was built in 1916, at least according to the maitre d'. The chandeliers behind us were gifts from the queen of Austria and are worth $50,000(!). The organizers chose this hotel in part because of the fancy-schmancy atmosphere of the Terrace Room, and in part because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself spent one night there when traveling through the United States lecturing on spiritualism and the paranormal.
The invitation encouraged guests to get all dressed up and ladies to wear hats, and we happily complied. We ended up sharing a table with a slightly older professional couple. Sheila is a runner, and Frank likes organ concerts, so there was a lot to talk about. DH chose the mountain berry tea, while I opted for Earl Grey. We enjoyed a variety of finger sandwiches but could not manage to finish this impressive display of fruit and desserts. The china was a beautiful, classic, floral rose-on-white pattern. Service took over an hour, however, so the special lecture was delayed.
The guest for the day was Sherlockian Jim Zunic, who described himself as someone who has "an inordinate interest in Sherlock Holmes," and it made me wonder what constitutes an "ordinate" interest. He has read all 4 novellas and 56 short stories, watched the television and film knockoffs, and collected a variety of ephemera. It was a short but very interesting lecture. Zunic reminded us that many details associated with the famous detective in popular culture are not "canonical" from Conan-Doyle's original writings: the deerstalker hat, the curved pipe, and the phrase, "Elementary, my dear Watson!"
One last thing: the Terrace Room is overseen by a mural of George Washington recapturing Fort Duquesne (now Fort Pitt) in 1755. The hotel maitre d' pointed out a number of intentional inaccuracies, from the depiction of an elderly GW for recognition's sake, although he would have been 33 at the time, to the Plains Sioux headdress on the Iroquois Native American man in the foreground. The soldier on the left is General Braddock, not Governor Pitt the Elder, for whom the fort and later city were named.
Editor's Note: If you enjoyed this edition of That's So Pittsburgh (TSPGH), you might like the World War I commemoration we attended, or this post about other historic murals.