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The poor words with which natural human speech is provided cannot suffice to describe the Madonna Inn. -Umberto Eco
If you are from California and have driven on Highway 101, through the Central Coast, odds are you have noticed the sign for the Madonna Inn. Perhaps you have even ventured inside the restaurant or hotel…
The Madonna Inn is one of the iconic roadside attractions of California. The Swiss chalet-style hotel was built by Alex Madonna with interiors decorated by his wife Phyllis. The hotel features over 100 rooms and each one is styled with unique, themed decor. From the ornate Austrian Room decorated with gilt furniture and a chandelier to the Caveman Room complete with an animal print bedspread and rock walls.
Venture inside the restaurant and you will find a really good cup of coffee and unapologetically pink, kitsch decor. Pink napkins, shakers filled with pink sugar, and colorful water goblets sit on each table.
On my first visit to the Madonna Inn, I immediately fell in love with the water goblets. Luckily the gift shop sells the goblets in every color of the rainbow!
I don’t have many collections decorating my home, but I do have a collection of Madonna Inn goblets. I love practical collections, especially ones that can add some crazy color to a dinner party!
My goblets have been collected slowly, as my mother or I find them secondhand at thrift shops and garage sales. I have collected many of the colors but there are so many I have yet to find.
I love bringing the goblets out for a dinner party because most Californians I know recognize the glasses from their own trip to the Madonna Inn. They end up being the best and most colorful conversation pieces!
When The Madonna Inn first opened its doors on Christmas Eve in 1958, the water and wine goblets were much more plain than the rose-patterned ones you see today. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the Madonnas sought out a rose-patterned goblet to match the interiors of the dining area.
This first style of Madonna Inn goblet is known today as the “Flat Rose” design. Early goblets were sourced from the LG Wright Glass Company and Fenton. You can tell this early style of goblet because the design has much sharper ridges and the seams where the pieces of glass were joined go straight down the middle of each rose.
If you look at the base of one of these glasses, you will see that leaves encircle the bottom of the stem, instead of the roses that decorate the base of the newer goblets.
About a decade later, Alex Madonna decided to design a goblet to better match the rose carpet that had been designed by a former Disney artist. He designed a glass that was thicker and more smooth than the original glasses.
The newer rose pattern is known as “Madonna Rose.” The first goblets of this design were made by Fenton and the glasses are now manufactured by family-owned Mosser Glass in Ohio.
The goblets really are magical. Drinking out of one will transport you to a psychedelic fantasy world where the wine tastes even better sipped from a rose-colored (or lime green-colored) glass. If you need a really good cup of coffee…or a bright pink water goblet, stop by on your next trip on 101 and you’ll see what I mean!
If you love vintage treasures as much as I do, be sure to read about other vintage gems here on Different Drum!
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