Victorian Tea Party

This article appeared in the Winter 2008 issue of Texoma Living!.

When Charlie and Gloria Morton purchased the Inn of Many Faces in 2001 from sisters Pat Gunter and Judy Johnson, they bought not only a beautifully restored and furnished Victorian home, but also a collection of faces scattered throughout the house. Many of the faces are carved in the lovely old pieces of furniture, not glaring out at you, but quietly waiting for you to find them.

Representations of Good and Evil look out from the center of a shelf, above which is a row of cup hooks. Above each hook is a face, each different. Wherever guests go, they can find some little elf or animal or person looking back at them.

The faces are only a part of the charm of the inn. Charlie said the first thing he noticed when he and Gloria entered the front door was a feeling of warmth, not warmth as in temperature, but the warmth of home. He said that the high ceilings and spacious rooms reminded him of his grandmother’s house.

It was a house well planned. The hardwood floors, the carpets, the striped and flowered wallpaper—each was carefully chosen to set off a piece of furniture or a set of china. The Mortons bought the whole thing, lock, stock and barrel and prepared themselves for an occupation of many faces.

Four large comfortable bedrooms with Jacuzzis on the second floor make the inn an ideal place for out-of-town guests. Guests can also use the large dining room table and comfortable parlors for scrapbooking, quilting, Bible study, or business seminars.

In addition to the bed and breakfast, the Mortons host an average of ten elegant teas and twelve to fifteen weddings each year. Gloria has a degree in nutrition from Texas Woman’s University and is a first-class cook and baker. When she puts on a tea, it is a work of art. “It’s a three day bake,” Charlie said. He doesn’t cook, but calls himself the prep and clean-up man.

The Mortons arrange the delicacies they serve for tea on three-tiered stands. One tray holds at least three kinds of sandwiches; cucumber, egg salad on dark rye, and pumpernickel and cream cheese with chutney and green peppers are often in the mix. Another tray holds savories: asparagus wrapped in filo with a burst of cheese in it, baked artichoke cups, feta cheese cups, and scones. “A lot of people don’t realize that they have three tiers of desserts coming after that,” said Gloria. Madelines, stuffed strawberries, tarts, and petit fours are some of the possibilities.

Gloria is not concerned about counting calories or making foods too rich. “Teas are a treat. People get all dressed up, wear hats, and expect to splurge.” She remembers the first tea she hosted, for a group from Sherman. The ladies came in wearing stockings with seams and little fur jackets. Daintily, they each took one bite of everything and then left the rest on their plates so as not to consume too many calories.

Of course, the Red Hatters do no such thing. Gloria and Charlie have served up to forty-six of them at a time. The Brownies hard at work on their etiquette badges clean their plates, too.

The Inn of Many Faces sits on two acres of lawn. The Mortons take advantage of a picturesque gazebo and large shade trees to add a third face to their business—weddings. At night, twinkling white lights add a romantic atmosphere to the setting. If it should rain or turn cold, the wedding party can move inside, where firelight adds a shimmering glow to the proceedings. No matter where you are in the Inn of Many Faces, comfort and beauty combine. It just feels good.

Charlie and Gloria Morton, owners of the Inn of Many Faces in Denison.

Gloria said, “Sometimes I feel like a caretaker of history, knowing how much has gone before me and how long this house can last. It’s like living in a museum that feels like home.”

A brief history of the Queen Anne Victorian home and a description of its accommodations are available at Gloria and Charlie Morton’s website.

Inn of Many Faces
Victorian Home Bed & Breakfast

412 West Morton Street
Denison, Texas 75020
(903) 465-4539
www.innofmanyfaces.com