The historic red brick home at 144 Constitution Avenue has been there since 1800, but more than its longevity, the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, which has been redubbed the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, is remarkable for its importance to the history of the women’s rights movement.
The home was originally constructed by Robert Sewall, and it looked a bit different than it does today. The first home on the spot was a smaller building connected to a farmhouse, but it evolved over the decades to it’s current state. It is said to have burned in the War of 1812, but was rebuilt and built up by the Sewall descendants until it was taken over by Vermont Senator Porter Dale in 1922, who then sold it to the National Women’s Party in 1929.
Ever since then the house has remained under the ownership of the NWP, seeing it through decades of struggles for equality including the suffrage movement and the fight for women to receive equal pay. Despite near constant issues getting funding to both staff and keep up with the repairs to the aging structure, it has continued to serve as the organization’s headquarters and now as a museum to women’s fight for their rights. Among the monuments and artifacts on display include a bust of NWP co-founder Alice Paul, and Susan B. Anthony’s desk.
On April 12, 2016, Equal Pay Day, President Obama named christened the Sewall-Belmont House as a national monument to the struggle for equality in America. It was already a national historic landmark, but now as the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, it will make sure that barring an apocalypse, people in 100 years will be able to look back, and never forget the time when women had to fight for their very rights.
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