Social history was made in 1983 at 31 Pearl Street, after Anthony Lema Jr. sold his parents’ property, a house dating to the mid-19th century, to Helen G. Caddie-Larcenia (then known as Helen G. Brown), the co-owner of the Aspasia Guesthouse at 98 Bradford Street. After moving to 31 Pearl, the Aspasia increasingly began attracting “large contingents of women of color,” Karen Christel Krahulik wrote in Provincetown: From Pilgrim Landing to Gay Resort (2005), including the writer and critic Barbara Smith, who had founded the Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press in 1980 with Audre Lord and others.
Caddie-Larcenia was also among the original members of the Women Innkeepers of Provincetown in the mid-1980s. “These women formed a commanding political group,” Krahulik wrote, “whose goals were to create safe women-oriented spaces in Provincetown, advertise these spaces in lesbian and women’s magazines nationwide, and assist one another in all ways possible, such as through referrals, to ensure the survival of their gender-specific presence.” Now a massage therapist in Washington, Me., Caddie-Larcenia wrote a message to the Women Innkeepers’ Facebook page in September 2012: “Want to also note that I was and to date have been the only woman of African ancestry to own and operate a women’s guest house in Provincetown. Worth noting and very proud of that. I love Provincetown and will continue to return a few times a year, and/or as often as I can. It was extremely important to me to be living there and a part of the community when I was just discovering me!!! Saved my life!!!”
Aspasia (Ασπασία), who lived in the latter half of the fifth century BCE, may have been the most powerful and influential woman in ancient Greece (she was certainly one of the most talked about), by dint of her intellect and independence, and by reason of her intimate relationship with Pericles. It was said to have been at Aspasia’s urging that Pericles set Athens to battle Samos, because the Samians were warring against Miletus, Aspasia’s birthplace. “What great art or power this woman had,” Plutarch wrote, “that she managed as she pleased the foremost men of the state, and afforded the philosophers occasion to discuss her in exalted terms and at great length.” The Provincetown playwright George Cram “Jig” Cook (1873-1924) imagined Aspasia as the real-life inspiration for Lysistrata in the 1918 production The Athenian Women, starring Ida Rauh as Aspasia and Cook as Pericles.
Caddie-Larcenia sold this property in 1990 to Nancy L. Ross and Jacqueline L. Sperry, when they had already been together for more than a quarter of a century. In 2004, when they were weighing whether or not to become legally married, they acknowledged to a reporter for The Boston Globe that they had already purchased wedding rings for one another at Tiffany’s. In 1963.