“Born in a Ballroom” explores the relationship between the Hütte Restaurant, its founder, Eleanor Mailloux, and the rural Appalachian village she called home, Helvetia, West Virginia.

The night of Eleanor’s birth on March 29, 1917, the small log cabin her parents owned caught fire. Her mother ran to the plantation home nearby to give birth to little Eleanor on the ballroom floor. Entering this world with gusto, Eleanor often lamented, “I was born in a ballroom, and I’ve been dancing ever since.”

Eleanor went on to teach, work for the Red Cross, travel the world, raise a family of five, and co-found The Hütte Restaurant in her rural hometown of Helvetia, WV. The Hütte is a Swiss restaurant that is nationally acclaimed both in print and in television (see The Hütte featured on Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern”). The Hütte reflects Eleanor and Helvetia’s heritage through its food, decor, and culture. As we explore this exceptional woman and place, we discover, now forty years later, how one woman embraced a community through food and perhaps a dance or two.

Eleanor passed away on March 9, 2011 just twenty days shy of her 94th birthday. Even though we cannot directly interview Eleanor for this film, we have collected old interviews and news footage to fill that void. Furthermore, The Hütte, Helvetia, and Eleanor’s family and friends confidently and seamlessly convey her story.

Generally, we follow The Hütte’s story through the seasons while weaving Eleanor’s voice and image throughout. We hope to intimately connect viewers to The Hütte, Helvetia, and Eleanor as they journey with us.

2024 © Coat of Arms

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