Saturday, November 26, 2011

Somewhere: The Women's Bar

295 Franklin Street today
Somewhere: The Women's Bar

Location: 295 Franklin Street, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Opened/Closed: 1970s/1980s

Somewhere: The Women's Bar is listed, along with its address, in the (Boston) History Project Bar Collection. More information is to be found in Box 1, Series 1, Folder 27 (to be exact). And also in Series IV, Subseries A for all you serious scholars out there.

So when was it open? Basically in the 1970s/1980s is my guess. We see mention of Somewhere in a 2008 oral history interview with lesbian activist Jill Harris ("SS" is interviewer Sarah Schulman):

SS: What was your community involvement at that time? What was the name of that big famous lesbian bar in Boston? It was called like Our Place or –

JH: Somewhere.

SS: Somewhere. That’s right.

JH: Somewhere. I worked there.

SS: What?

JH: I worked there.

SS: You worked at Somewhere?

JH: I worked at Somewhere.

SS: So you were in Lesbian Central.

JH: Yeah, yeah. I was a waitress at Somewhere between college and law school.

We also see definitive evidence that Somewhere was certainly open in Winter 1985, as it was mentioned in the Cambridge Women's Center Newsletter. Specifically, that a Black History Month Celebration dance would be held at Somewhere on February 24.

Just a little aside information. The Women's Center was founded in 1971, when women seeking a "space for activism" seized an abandoned Harvard-owned building on Memorial Drive. Later, they purchased a building at 46 Pleasant Street in Cambridge...and they are still there! That's quite an accomplishment these days.
Today, Somewhere's former building is occupied by Umbria Prime, an upscale steakhouse with a (straight) nightclub on the upper three floors.

You were surprised? You shouldn't be. Any women's space located in the "heart of Boston's financial district, just steps away from the [now gentrified] waterfront" wasn't going to survive as a women's space for long. Not when developers had no doubt been salivating over the property's "highest and best use" (from a capitalist point of view) for a while.

Personal update: Turns out my dear girlfriend worked as a bouncer at Somewhere back in her college days. The girlfriend's claim to fame: Both she and Tracy Chapman were fired from this place. Tracy for singing songs that were "too depressing." As for the girlfriend? I'll have to inquire further....

1 comment:

  1. In the 1980s, when I was coming out, I went to Somewhere Else, on Franklin Street in Boston. I don't remember the outside looking anything like the building listed here for Somewhere. Of course, the Financial District back then looked a lot different than it does now. Then, the elevated highway closed it in and in the evenings the area was empty. Only the doorway to Somewhere Else beckoned. That place saved me.


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