The Blossom Dairy is located in downtown Charleston, West Virginia. It is a classic Art Deco-designed restaurant originally opened in 1941.
Sam Sloman opened the Blossom Dairy, named for his
mother, in Charleston, West Virginia, as a full-service dairy on June 1, 1927. A
resident of Cleveland, Ohio, Sloman saw opportunity in the growing Kanawha
Valley and began his business with four employees and two trucks at 225 Virginia
Street across from what is now the Municipal Auditorium.
Success was such that four years later he opened a
new, modernized dairy on the city’s West Side. The building contained an
attached store featuring the dairy’s own products, as well as counter service and
tables for lunch. It was an immediate success with people living and working in the neighborhood. The franchise
proved so popular that Sloman opened five more diners by 1939.
The seventh diner, at 904 Quarrier Street, would
prove to be the last. In a September 9, 1977, Charleston Daily-Mail article,
Russell Smith described how he helped design the final Blossom diner with Sloman’s
input. At the time, Smith was a salesman working for a “Chicago-based firm”
that sold a product called Vitrolite out of Parkersburg. Vitrolite was a trade
name for a structural, pigmented glass popular during the first half of the 20th
century. Its shiny surface could be curved, an essential feature of the diner’s
Art Deco style.
have been impressed. He bought $29,000 worth of the product. Smith then
sketched out the design and layout of the business.
On June 20,
1941, Mayor D. Boone Dawson cut the blue ribbon, opening the “showcase” Sloman
had wanted. The guests would see a room bursting with vivid color and high
contrast. Geometric forms in glass and chrome gave the space a cosmopolitan
quality. Airy figures in motion etched into mirrors added size and depth to the
was only 25 feet across, with mirrors on one side reflecting the red, blue, and
ivory Vitrolite panels on the opposite wall.
Alternating straightedge and rounded high-back blue booths lined the
left side. Red Vitrolite tabletops in
the center matched the red 70-foot counter to the right. The soda fountain and
cooking area was behind the counter, in a sunken galley area, placing the cooks and waitresses at eye level with
Sam Sloman died in 1953. The family sold the
business to Broughton Farm Dairy in 1961. The restaurant has opened under different management over the years. Its most recent period of greatest success came under
the late Bill Sohovich, who ran it as the Blossom Deli from 1994 to 2010. The
building is a contributing structure to the Downtown Charleston Historic