“The historic (Hotel Windham) in Bellows Falls (had a) history as the Andrews Inn, one of these early places in rural Vermont that was really friendly to same-sex couples and kind of became a hub for that community here,” Vermont Historical Society executive director Steve Perkins said. “We’re going to talk to HB Lozito, executive director of Out In The Open, who has some information on the inn but also a really interesting oral history project.”

“The Andrews Inn was a disco and a hotel and a bar, but also a co-counseling site and a community center for LGBTQ people, but also for straight community members,” Lozito said. (“It) really was a gathering place for everyone in the community to come together, both folks who were local to Bellows Falls as well as people who were traveling from Montreal, New York City, Boston.”

“In the ’70s and ’80s, even in major urban areas, you would have had to look long and hard to find something like that,” Mike Hoey added.

“Absolutely,” Lozito continued. “John Moisis started it in the building that his parents owned at that time, and he was from Bellows Falls. Really right after Stonewall — Andrews Inn was founded in 1973, and the uprisings at the Stonewall Inn in New York had just happened a few years prior (in 1969). A lot of folks in these more rural areas, where we live, were looking for gathering places where people could explore their identity and experience and be with other people, and Andrews Inn was that place. Thom Herman and Jeremy Youst purchased it in 1979, did a number of upgrades to the building and then ran it successfully until 1984 — so, a good long run for any kind of business.”

“Within about the last five years or so, you personally have had a very important guiding role in getting off the ground an oral history project to document the importance of the Andrews Inn and the myriad ways in which it served people,” Hoey noted.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Lozito said. “This has been a really powerful collaboration that started between our organization — Out In The Open — Marlboro College, Vermont Performance Lab, and Rockingham Arts and Musuem Project, along with obviously big community involvement from individuals. A lot of the people that we talked to through this oral history project described Andrews Inn as a lifesaving place for them.”

Hoey asked, “Where can people find the product of the oral history project to this point?”

“People can find the oral history project on our website,” Lozito answered. “John Moisis sadly passed away in the summer of 2019, and we rebroadcast my full interview with him as a podcast episode, so if folks want to hear an extended interview with John, that’s available on our website as well. If folks are wanting to talk about their experience at Andrews Inn, our door is always open.”