Women’s Open House

in Groups and Organizations

The Women’s Open House, a women’s coffeehouse collective and event series, was founded by Lisa Rainsong and Gayle Pilat in 1980. Following the closure of Labyris, a women’s coffeehouse, Rainsong and Pilat asserted the continued need for “Cleveland women to have a chemical-free space of [their] own where [they could] meet and talk with other women and where feminist performers could share their music, poetry, etc. with other women in the community.” To fill this institutional void in the women’s community, Rainsong and Pilat established Women’s Open House collective and began to organize a series of monthly women’s coffeehouses. The Women’s Open House collective hosted the first Women’s Open House event on November 22, 1980, at the home of a local woman. Women’s Open Houses were typically organized as “coffeehouse-style” events open to all women. An array of feminist performers, bands, singers, and songwriters provided live entertainment at the women-only coffeehouse events. Following the success of the first event, Women’s Open House collective began to host a series of “monthly open house[s]” for women regularly thereafter. Because the collective lacked a “permanent, non-residential” space of its own from which to operate, the majority of Women’s Open House events were held at the private residences of various collective members and attendees between 1980-1981. In December 1981, the Women’s Open House collective was able to secure a more permanent venue after renting a space from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Cleveland (2728 Lancashire Road). After moving the monthly event to 2728 Lancashire, the Women’s Open House continued provide a “relaxed, informal, chemical-free atmosphere for women” until it dissolved in the early-to-mid 1980s.

Additional information coming soon.


  • “Coffeehouse Raises Funds.” High Gear. September 1982. Page 4.
  • “November.” What She Wants. October 1981.
  • Rainsong, Lisa. “Women’s Open House.” High Gear. June 1981. Page 16.
  • Rainsong, Lisa. “Women’s Open House Gets New Home.” High Gear. December 1981. Page 5.
  • Rainsong, Lisa. “Women’s Open House to Continue.” What She Wants. December 1980. Page 8.
  • Rainsong, Lisa, and Gayle Pilat. “Women Invited to Play.” What She Wants. November 1980. Page 2.
  • “What’s Happening.” What She Wants. November 1981. Page 8.
  • “What’s Happening – Entertainment.” What She Wants. November 1982. Page 15.
  • “What’s Happening – Events.” What She Wants. December 1981. Page 12.
  • “What’s Happening – Events.” What She Wants. January 1982. Page 8.
  • “What’s Happening – Events.” What She Wants. June 1981. Page 9.
  • “What’s Happening – Music & Art Events.” What She Wants. May 1982. Page 12.
  • “What’s Happening – Ongoing.” What She Wants. October-November 1982. Page 16.
  • “Women’s Coffeehouse Stages Entertainment.” What She Wants. August 1982. Page 3.
  • “Women’s Open House.” High Gear. October 1981. Page 14.
2728 Lancashire Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH 44106

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