Within 14 years of its first appearance in Provincetown in 1982, AIDS had claimed more than 385 lives — one-tenth of the town’s permanent population — Jeanne Braham and Pamela Peterson wrote in Starry, Starry Night. To the extent that patients, survivors and caregivers formed their own cohort, it’s fitting that they should have situated one of their oases in an old fraternal hall. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows dedicated the Queen Anne-style Odd Fellows Hall on Oct. 15, 1895.
For a sense of the order’s prominence in civic life, you have only to note the number of headstones in the Town Cemetery carved with three chain links, signifying an I.O.O.F. member. By 1955, however, the number of living members was down to 26. The lodge closed this hall and merged with the Orleans chapter. In the early 80s, Helen Brown and Bejay Prescott ran the Aspasia Guesthouse, which was popular among women of color. The building was converted into apartments under the name Misty Harbor Condominium. The ground-floor tenant is the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, founded in 1983 as the Provincetown AIDS Support Group. The name of the founding executive director, Alice Foley, is commemorated at Foley House, a group residence at 214 Bradford Street.