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    Jul 24

    Written by: Michael Dalby 7/24/2012 12:39 PM 

    “The places we have known do not belong solely to the world of space in which we situate them for our greater convenience. They were only a thin slice among contiguous impressions which formed our life at that time; the memory of a certain image is but regret for a certain moment; and houses, roads, avenues are as fleeting, alas, as the years.”
    ― Marcel Proust, Swann's Way

    These days Clevelanders have a lot of new downtown destination spots to be proud of.The most resent addition to the city is the new Horeshoe casino, located in the old Higbee’s department store. The newly renovated space is very exiting, however there is one space that has not changed much inside the heart of the building, The Silver Grille Restaurant. Opened in 1931, The Silver Grille was modeled after tea rooms which were becoming mainstays in busy downtown department stores across the country.  Department stores’ main customers were women. During that time, there were very few locations that women felt comfortable eating. Stores felt that if their consumers could stop and eat on the premises, they would stay and continue to shop.

    The interior space of the Silver Grille was designed by architect Phillip Small of the firm Philip Small and Associates and he worked with local interior designer Louis Rorimer to create the look of the Silver Grille.

    Louis Rorimer ran the largest design firm west of New York. He had a reputation for taking old styles and translating them into something fresh and new.  As a student, Rorimer studied art and design in Europe. While there, he also cultivated a progressive group of friends. They included Aubrey Beardsley, Gertrude Stein and Oscar Wilde. Rorimer also exposed himself to new trends, styles and techniques that were taking place in Europe. Rorimer allowed all of these influences to help him shape his own unique style. When he returned to Cleveland he started working and creating a reputation as a talented craftsman who insisted on high quality. Louis Rorimer and Phillip Small worked in an era when both the architect and the interior designer attempted to create a unified harmony in a space.

    In 1925, Louis Rorimer went to Paris as part of an American delegation to the L’Exposition Des Art. This exposition was created to show case modern styles (Art Deco) in the decorative arts to the world. Rorimer loved the new streamlined look of Art Deco which was a new twist on the Neo Classical designs of the ancient world. When Rorimer’s firm was brought on the Silver Grille project it was great news personally for Rorimer. At last, he would have a chance to showcase his vision of Art Deco. The team created a monument to Art Deco that would have looked right at home on an RKO film set. Everything was sleek, shinny and of course silver. Recently, the Special Collections Department was able to bring smiles to faces of both young and old alike by recreating the splendor that was the Silver Grille in the department. Patrons came in and sat at an actual table that was once in the restaurant. Although the display, just like the Grille itself is now just a memory, we invite patrons to come to the library and look at some books that may help bring a positive memory of the Silver Grille back to you.

    The Higbee Company and the Silver Grille
    Karberg, Richard E.
    Science & Technology Department
    TX945.5.S55 K36 2001

    The Silver Grille
    Memories and Recipes

    Karberg, Richard E.
    Science & Technology Department
    TX945.5.S55 K37 2000

    Louis Rorimer
    A Man of Style

    Piña, Leslie A.
    Fine Arts Department
    NK2004.3.R67 P5 1990

    Cleveland Memories - How We Shopped

    This features clips of the Silver Grille as well as other downtown landmark restaurants.


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