Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Greenbrier College for Women

Greenbrier College for Women
Greenbrier College for Women

Location: Lewisburg, West Virginia, USA

Opened: 1812 as Lewisburg Academy

Closed: 1972

From the West Virginia Encylopedia:

The Greenbrier College for Women, which once operated in Lewisburg, descended from the Lewisburg Academy. Dr. John McElhenney, who was the third pastor of Old Stone Presbyterian Church, came to Lewisburg in 1808. He and his wife organized a board of directors and succeeded in having a two-story brick building constructed to house the academy. McElhenney was president of this board from 1812 to 1860. A succession of principals and presidents followed, with Philander Custer and Alex Mathews being two of the most successful.

Having closed because of the Civil War, the academy was reopened in 1875 and its name changed to Lewisburg Female Institute. Across town the boys’ division opened and by 1890 was known as the Greenbrier Military Academy, later Greenbrier Military School. Robert L. Telford was the last president to serve while the school was still known as Lewisburg Female Institute. Lewisburg Seminary was the third name, from 1911 to 1923. Then the school was named Greenbrier College for Women and continued as such until 1933.

Greenbrier College students (1959)
Since its founding in 1812, the school had been associated with the Presbyterian Church, first the Synod and then the Presbytery, not faring well under either. On October 16, 1929, the college assets were transferred to an independent corporation, and it was chartered in 1933 as just Greenbrier College. French W. Thompson was president for the major part of this time, and the college prospered as a women’s junior college. Greenbrier College closed in 1972, but its buildings remain Lewisburg landmarks. Its Greenbrier Hall, an impressive red brick structure, now serves as the Greenbrier Campus of the New River Community and Technical College. Carnegie Hall and North House, once part of the campus, also remain an active part of community cultural life.

This Article was written by Bettie S. Woodward
As we too often see in the history of women's institutions, there were (apparently) not a lot of women leaders who were prominently involved--and the few who are recognized in passing aren't even identified by name.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Onondaga Hotel Ladies Restaurant

from the Syracuse Herald, November 25, 1911
The Onondaga Hotel Ladies Restaurant

Location: East Jefferson Street, Syracuse, New York, USA

Opened: Hotel opened August 1910

Closed: Officially closed April 1969; torn down in 1970

Back in the early years of the twentieth century, the Onondaga was one of the more prestigious hotels in upstate New York. And as we see from an advertisement from 1911, it was very much an old boys' place.

In fact, this ad beautifully illustrates how marginalized the women's space tends to be in the greater scheme of things. Specifically, how minor and compromised the so-called "ladies restaurant" is in contrast to the male-only spaces of an upper-class hotel.

First observe the clubby, confidential tone of the ad narrative, and how it's very much man-to-man. And also how the space at this hotel is carefully framed as a facility catering to wealthy men and their personal and economic interests:

Said a banker: "Many times of a forenoon do I try to reach a business man in his office, and fail. How often, however, do I find him and others at the lunch hour at The Onondaga. The advantage that one enjoys additional to a good meal, in finding the people you want to meet is a convenience not to be underrated."

The Onondaga Hotel - Syracuse, New York
Men are apparently synonymous with "people" and vice versa. To continue:

That's it--Saves time--Promotes friendly intercourse with the very men you might otherwise seldom see. The hotel is a rendezvous of the business man, the the man of affairs and the man about town. It may well be styled "The Down Town Club." If you fail to find the man you want in the lobby or Men's Cafe--try the Ratskeller.

Notice the prominent mention of male-only space (the Men's Cafe). Though you can almost bet the Ratskeller was also exclusively male. And that "unescorted" ladies were not welcome in the lobby area either, especially if they had the temerity to "linger." This was standard modus operandi for a hotel of this era.

So far no sign of women anywhere in this text. But notice how the ladies are suddenly introduced into the discussion:

Or tonight he may be in the the ladies' restaurant with his wife--for she likes to come as well as he--this is not a hotel for men alone--it's


This is a theme we have seen many times before. The men's areas are strictly that--bonding areas for ambitious businessmen. 

But in addition the so-called ladies areas are also thoroughly colonized for the same purpose. Not only are the men apparently present in the (so-called) ladies cafe in abundance, the men seemingly can't help but project and insert the same old male-oriented agenda.

And yet we see this hotel called--in a totally faux interpretation of equality--a "headquarters for everybody." Obviously, this is nothing but horse patootie.

The evidence we see here of men taking over a women's space, and making it there own is a theme we have seen many times in the history of turn-of-the-century ladies restaurants, cafes, and dining rooms.

As early as 1885 we see a New York woman complaining about male domination within so-called ladies restaurants:

True, almost every respectable restaurant bears the sign "ladies' restaurant up stairs" but upon entering we find the room filled with men, and we meekly subside into whatever vacant space we are allotted, running the gauntlet thereto between the domineering, quizzical or supercilious eyes of the nabobs, who glare at us as if we had invaded their domain instead of they ours, and for all this we are allowed to pay double the price charged in a regular business man's eating house.

A previous post on the ladies' cafe at Chicago's Hotel Bismarck provides the visual evidence. The postcards illustrate that the men's space are strictly that. By contrast, men are to found at nearly every table in the ladies' cafe.

Needless to say, remnants of this attitude live on as women's shelters, bars, and other institutions are roundly denounced (or even threatened) for attempting to even restrict the presence of men. While male-only institutions are vigilantly defended and enforced as off-limits.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monongahela House Ladies Restaurant

From the Indiana Democrat,
June 15, 1910
Monongahela House Ladies Restaurant

Location: Corner of Smithfield and Water Streets (now
known as Fort Pitt Boulevard), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Opened: Hotel originally built in 1840; rebuilt in 1847 after it was destroyed during Pittsburgh's Great Fire of 1845

Closed: Hotel was razed in 1935

The Mongahela House has a long and glorious history with many esteemed guests. But I'm not going to go into all that here.

For our purposes, I just want to call your attention to the Ladies Restaurant, which is mentioned in the 1910 advertisement reproduced above.
Monongahela House (1935)

What is remarkable here, is that in an ad praising the many virtues of the Monoghahela House ("World renowned, centrally located, large airy rooms") we discover that there was a Ladies Restaurant that was actually on the first floor!

Regular Lost readers will probably recognize how rare this actually was. The vast majority of Ladies Restaurants were squeezed into maginal commercial space--typically the second floor, though sometimes the basement. At any rate, they were virtually never accorded prime square footage on the first floor where the (higher value) Gentlemen's Cafe, Dining Room, or Grill were located.

The Ladies Restaurant probably dates to 1907, when "the Monon" was remodeled. A 1908 book on Pittsburgh tells us the following about the Ladies Restaurant:

The ladies' parlours and ladies' and gentlemen's restaurants on the first floor are models of exquisite taste and rare beauty, while the scenery along the river front, looking toward Mount Washington across the waters of the sweeping Monongahela, is indeed one of picturesque beauty.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bath Old Ladies Home

From the Bath [Maine] Independent,
March 5, 1910
Old Ladies Home

Location: Bath, Maine, USA

Opened/Closed: Around 1910

This is one of those random accidental finds. An unnamed photographer working for the local newspaper in Bath, Maine goes out to the Old Ladies Home and snaps a photograph of the residents on the porch. Other than being assured that they "live as one happy family," we are not told anything about these women. We don't even know their names.

Were they really happy--or at least content--to be living out their lives together? Did they regard themselves as a family? Did they miss their old homes?

I guess we will never know.

This source states that the Old Ladies Home was established sometime after the Civil War and that it was "sparked by the bequest of Mrs. Mary J. Ledyard and further funded by private citizens of Bath."

According to Benevolent Instutions (1904), a publication put out by the U.S Bureau of the Census, the Old Ladies Home in Bath, Maine was one of 21 institutions by this name. We'll be reporting on some of these places in the near future, promise.

Old Ladies Home, Bath, ME

Bath, ME  Old Ladies Home


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Baltimore Female College

Baltimore Female College
Baltimore Female College

Location: Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Opened: 1849

Closed: 1890

From Lovett:

The Baltimore Female College opened it's doors in 1849, having been chartered by the State of Maryland in 1848. Originally a Methodist Episcopal Institution, and the pioneer institute in the State for the higher education of women, it became non-denominationl in 1868 by an act of the legislature. The school began on property on Paul Street moving to new buildings on Park Place in 1874. It's curriculum was Liberal Arts but the primary mission was training teachers. Dr. Nathan Covington Brooks presided as it's President from it's opening until 1890 when it was forced to close due to the withdrawal of the grant from the State of Maryland.

Once again, we see male leadership of a female institution from beginning to end...only to find that the institution finally whithers and dies from lack of commitment.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hung Jury

Hung Jury
1819 H Street NW

Address: 1819 H Street NW, Washington, DC, USA

Opened: 1980? Also reported as 1984 at Rainbow History Project.

Closed: 2012?

Metro Weekly only says the following about Hung Jury:

Favorite for: Mostly Women, Dancing

Not a lot to go on. Fortunately, a review (undated) in the Washington Post tells us more:
Seemingly hidden halfway down an unnamed ally off H Street, you may think that you need to know a secret password to enter the mysterious blue door that is the entrance to the Hung Jury. It becomes obvious inside the door, and in line to pay a $5 to $10 cover charge, that the secret passage to the Hung Jury is that you must be, or be accompanied by, a woman to get inside. 
A staple in the gay club circuit, the Hung Jury is a club for the Washingtonian insider. It does not advertise or promote itself, as is reflected in its incognito location, but relies on reputation and word of mouth to draw partygoers through its doors. And while many other alternative clubs are rigidly defined, the Hung Jury prides itself on being a place where men and women, both gay and straight, can let their hair down. 

The Hung Jury is a bar and club all in one. It has a large dance floor, which gets hot and is only cooled by fans along its perimeter. You must pass along the edge of the dance floor to get to one of two bars. A space off to the side of the dancing area has the feel of a traditional bar, with a pool table and lounge area where people can mix and mingle. 

The Hung Jury is not a state-of-the-art nightclub, but is more like a renovated gymnasium with a nice lighting system projected onto the dance floor. 

The club is only open two nights a week, Friday and Saturday, with Saturday being the night to stay late and get funky. Clubgoers must be 18 to get in and 21 to enjoy the full bar or $3 domestic beers and $3.75 imports. With soft drinks at $2.50 a pop, the Hung Jury is an expensive place to be a teenager or the designated driver. 

– Kerry Valentine

Access Washington DC (2007) also gives a full description of Hung Jury:

Odd name for a dyke club (it's a leftover from the previous establishment), but this place, mere blocks from the White House, has been hopping with a diverse group of women since 1980. The copper-green-walled room holds a pool table and a good-sized dance floor, from which issues a fun mix of tunes; for the hungry, light food is served on the order of burgers and fries. By day, it's just another eatery for Downtown office drones. On Friday and Saturday nights, when the Jury is in session, you must be or be accompanied by a woman to enter. 
Hung Jury patrons (2003)

Then there is this blog post from March 2003:

One of the well-known lesbian bars, Hung Jury features relaxing atmosphere and its highlights are that to get admission you’ve got to be a woman or be accompanied by another lady. The club takes pride in its superb dance floor, two well-stocked bars and a relaxing lounge. Don’t miss the pool table for a game or two of the fascinating game and attending the fun-filled social get-togethers.

Observe the repeated references to men only being admitted in the company of a woman. Naturally, we see at least one gay boy (R. Scott Wallis) having a full-blown conniption fit regarding this practice (never mind that the gay boys have a long history of policing the numbers of women admitted into THEIR bars, and that all kinds of restrictions on women have long been the rule in male-oriented social spaces in general). This particular dude (a self-confessed young white Republican to boot!) also whines about his visit to the Hung Jury, and how he wasn't treated with all the deference owed to him as a Dude. The published temper tantrum is from September 2012. The ill-fated visit apparently took place in 1993 while in the company of a lesbian friend named Kim: 
One fateful evening, she [Kim] took me out on the town. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that the Hung Jury on H Street (long closed, as you know) was primarily a lesbian dance spot. Hell, it was strictly a lesbian joint and when we walked in and sidled up to the bar, it seemed that every pair of eyes was boring a hole through me. The bartender spoke to Kim, asked what she wanted, and completely ignored me. Luckily, she was gracious enough to defer to me. To say I was uncomfortable was an understatement. And when I had to use the restroom? Look out, brother! There were girls in there and they aggressively ushered me out and told me I could relieve myself in the alley if I had to go bad enough.
We left after the first drink and Kim apologized for the way I was treated. She explained that she may have crossed a line taking me there, but she thought that it was going to be okay because she had always found everyone to be so friendly in the past. When there was no dick riding sidesaddle, I surmised.
I never went back to the Hung Jury. And after I got a slew of nasty looks at a lesbian bar in Key West years later, I decided I was done with the lady places forever.
Done with lady places forever!!! (Is that a foot stamp in the background?) Amazing that this idiot is still whimpering about his hurt feelings 10 years after the fact. But then as we know, the hurt feelings of a male always outweigh the fear/discomfort/terror that women experience when male perverts, masterbators, exhibitionists, and/or rapists lurk around lesbian bars--as they have since the invention of the same.

But never mind the Dude. Check out the Women's Tour at the Rainbow History Project. They mention lots of lost womyn's spaces around DC including the Hung Jury. Here's a neat advertisment for Hung Jury too. 
Hung Jury must have been around as late as October 2011 as it won the Readers' Best Lesbian Bar award from the Washington Blade at that time. So I'm guessing it closed sometime in 2012? Sometime before the Dude's temper tantrum in September of that year I presume.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Windsor Ladies Cafe

From the Cumberland Evening Times,
October 21, 1905
Windsor Ladies Cafe

Location: Baltimore Street, Cumberland, Maryland, USA

Opened/Closed: Around 1905

This is an interesting ad for a ladies cafe, in that even the entrances to the gentlemen's cafe and the ladies' cafe are clearly distinguished. They are even located off separate streets, as if to emphasize the point. 

Very typical turn-of-the-century menu: pheasant, quail, oysters "in all styles." You almost never see food like that anymore, even in mixed company. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Columbia Hospital for Women

Columbia Hospital for Women (1920s)

Columbia Hospital for Women

Location: 2425 L Street, NW, Washington, DC USA

Opened: March 1866; opened at L Street site in 1870

Closed: May 2002

Columbia Hospital for Women, which closed in May 2002, was one of the oldest hospitals in Washington, DC and had occupied this site since 1870. Shortly after the Civil War, the Secretary of War E. N. Stanton authorized funds to establish a 50-bed hospital, stipulating that 20 of these beds be reserved for the wives and widows of U.S. soldiers. This was in response to a desperate need for a health-care facility for women who were arriving in the city in search of missing relatives. In March 1866, the hospital opened in the Hill Mansion at Thomas Circle (Massachusetts Avenue and 14th Street) under the name of Columbia Hospital for Women and Lying-in Asylum, and later moved to the Maynard Mansion at Pennsylvania Avenue and 25th Street, its current site. The original mansion was razed during a major renovation in 1914 and replaced by the present main hospital building. The Columbia became a private, non-profit hospital when President Eisenhower signed legislation transferring it to its board of directors in 1953. Columbia Hospital was a pioneer in the implementation of a number of innovative techniques in obstetrics and gynecology, and since its founding in 1866, more than 250,000 babies were delivered at Columbia.

The Columbia Hospital facility has been turned into an upscale condominum complex and is now known as The Columbia Residences of Washington, DC.