The first guests, including elderly members of Garnethill community centre, were welcomed today at the restored original Willow Tea Rooms building on Sauchiehall Street. The opening is to celebration the 150th anniversary of the birth of its designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
The building, which opened in 1903, is the only one where Mackintosh had total control over the architecture and interior decorations, including the design of furniture, cutlery and the waitress’s uniforms.
The 200-seat restaurant and tea rooms, now known as Mackintosh at The Willow, has undergone a £10 million restoration and will open to the public from 2nd July.
A retail store within Mackintosh at the Willow will be open from Monday 11th June. A grant of almost £4 million from the National Lottery supported the major restoration project, led by the Willow Tea Rooms Trust, to preserve the building’s place in the city’s history.
With an expected 150,000 visitors each year, a new interactive visitor centre will celebrate the achivevements of the tea rooms owner, Miss Cranston, as an early female entrepreneur, as well as the works of Mackintosh.
An education and learning suite and conference facilities will be available, alongside the shop.
The award will allow work to restore the original Room de Luxe to continue. The exterior of the building has already been largely returned to its full glory.
The centrepiece of the restoration will be the Room De Luxe which will be restored to its former glory.
Celia Sinclair, founder and chair of the Willow Tea Room Trust said: “The tea rooms building will become a focal point for cultural tourism in the city, attracting both domestic and international visitors. Just as many people intrinsically link Barcelona with Gaudi, Frank Lloyd Wright with Chicago, we want them to visit Glasgow to see Mackintosh. The building will give countless visitors the opportunity to learn more about Mackintosh as well as enjoy a cup of tea in the unique surroundings of a Mackintosh building.”