Friday, January 6, 2012

Our Hideaway

Our Hideaway
Our Hideaway

Location: 16 Bolduc Lane, Chicopee, Massachusetts, USA

Opened: 1949

Closed: 1999

Found at UMARMOT (Special Collections & University Archives), University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries:

Founded in Chicopee, Massachusetts in 1949 under another name, Our Hideaway was the oldest women’s bar on the east coast, offering the local lesbian community a safe haven in which to socialize for fifty continuous years. Before the bar was forced to close after losing its lease in 1999, it was home to a diverse community of women from those known as “old timers,” comprised of women patronizing the bar for upwards of 25 years, to college students new to the area.

As part of a project to research the lesbian bar as a social institution, Smith College student Heather Rothenberg conducted interviews of the women who frequented Our Hideaway. During the course of her research an unexpected announcement was made: the bar was closing. As a result, Rothenberg’s efforts to document Our Hideaway extended far beyond her original intent, and she was able to capture the final days of the bar as both a physical place as well as a community of women assembled over five decades. The collection consists of interview transcripts, emails, photographs and Rothenberg’s written reports. Transcripts of the interviews were modified to protect the privacy of the women interviewed; the original transcripts are restricted.

So that's where I first found out about Our Hideaway. Didn't find out much else, as that would require a cross-country trip. But as it turns out, the end of the story isn't buried in a UMASS archive. From the Hideaway website:

Since its closing, there had been various reunion events held at other locations.  But in May of 2010, Mayreane S. and Terri D. decided to reopen the Hideaway (Terri's sister now owns the building and the upstairs B-Bar) at its original location, and hold monthly events and special occasion parties.

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