The Chester County Historical Society holds an impressive collection of memorabilia related to women’s suffrage in Pennsylvania, but perhaps the most important artifact from the movement is the historical society’s building itself. Now, thanks to a prize from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the society will be able to make crucial repairs to their important building.
In 1852 the historical society’s building, Horticultural Hall, hosted the first women’s rights convention in Pennsylvania. At this convention, women adopted resolutions related to the legal and educational rights of women, including suffrage. In order to repair this historic building, the Chester County Historical Society entered a National Trust for Historic Preservation contest which awarded money to sites that “highlight and raise awareness for the often unrecognized contributions of women to American history and society.”
The historic sites with the most online votes received grants. Chester County Historical Society came in fourth place with 85,000 votes. Malcolm Johnstone, executive director of the West Chester Business Improvement District, said that the historical society’s success was only possible because of strong community support. “We competed against communities like LA, Denver, New York City, and Seattle. I was very impressed that little West Chester was able to play ball with the big boys,” he said.
The Chester County Historical Society’s $150,000 prize will go towards fixing a leak in the building’s roof. The historical society also received a $90,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. These funds will ensure the continued preservation of the building.