The Bright Shawl is owned by the Junior League of San Antonio.
The Bright Shawl opened its doors in October 1925 and served as the first fundraising project for the Junior League of San Antonio, Inc. (JLSA). It was originally located in the Kampmann home on Nacogdoches Street. The name “The Bright Shawl” was borrowed from the popular novel written by Joseph Hergerheimer in the 1920’s. Farris Linen, one of the shops sharing space with the Tearoom, donated a colorful shawl to symbolize the name. The barn in back of the Tearoom was rented to local artists for a fee of $10 per month.
During the early years, patronage was exclusive. Approximately 100 diners could be accommodated in the small space. By 1929, The Bright Shawl Tearoom had outgrown this location. A fundraiser held in conjunction with the opening of the Majestic Theater that year raised the $30,000 necessary to move to the current location at 819 Augusta Street.
The new building, designed by architect Alfred Giles, had formerly served as the home of Dr. and Mrs. C.E.R. King and their nine children. Lumber for the original house had been purchased from Steves Lumber Company, and limestone was hauled from quarries in what is now Brackenridge Park (the San Antonio Zoo).
The extra space permitted style show luncheons, initiated in the 1930s. Mondays were designated Mexican food days to compensate for La Fonda’s weekly closing. The facility continued to expand over the years, and in 1942, the Ivy Room was added in the space now occupied by the Gallery. The Tearoom was staffed by Junior League members who served as waitresses, hostesses and back-up cooks with a small paid staff and manager to tend to daily operations.
As The Bright Shawl membership and daily functions continued to expand, the Junior League of San Antonio, Inc. grew in membership and continued to add community projects. By the mid 1960s, it was evident a decision had to be made to either expand the building to meet current and future needs or move The Bright Shawl Tearoom and Junior League Headquarters to another location. In 1973, Junior League members voted to remove all of the additions restore the original house and construct new meeting room facilities.
Designed by the architectural firm Martin and Ortega, the expansion project began in 1975 to merge the modern and historic features of the building. At the same time, the original portion of the building, formally the CER King home, was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1973. Upon the completion of the newest construction in 1976, the entire restoration was designated an Official Bicentennial Project.
By the late 1980s, The Bright Shawl generated in excess of $900,000 in annual revenue. At that time, The Bright Shawl had over 3,000 members in addition to the Junior League of San Antonio, Inc’s. membership of approximately 2,000. Junior League members continued to staff the restaurant and operate the facility, through The Bright Shawl, Inc. Board of Directors, supported by a paid manager and staff.