Women's Suffrage in Washington D.C.

As the nation’s capital, the District has long been an epicenter of political activism and cultural progression. For the women’s suffrage movement, D.C. quickly became a central arena for collaborative meetings, government lobbying, and public demonstrations. Women’s suffrage groups established headquarters in the city to develop strategic plans intended to increase women’s visibility in the political arena and strengthen the collective bonds of suffragists across the United States. The sites included in this tour emphasize the spaces taken up by women in the city, from party headquarters to public demonstrations. Each of the sites included in this tour were utilized by women to gather and actively work for the equalization of the law.

The suffrage movement increased women’s visibility in a major way, and gave women an opportunity to come together in collective pursuit of a common cause: the vote. However, it is necessary to note that the suffrage movement often excluded women of color who were forced to use different, and often more arduous, methods to achieve similar results of representation.
This tour takes note of the incredible importance of recognizing intersectionality and the unique experiences of women based on the confluence of race, class, and gender. Significant sites related to the twin movements of suffrage and civil rights have been included. Each of these sites functioned as a meeting space or demonstration spot for the women's suffrage movement. While not every site listed here references the unique use of the space in its official DC Historic Sites entry, the DC Preservation League's new context study on Women's Suffrage in D.C. will provide detailed information on each site upon release.

This tour can be completed by walking, biking, or driving. However, it should be noted that the sites span the entirety of the District so please plan accordingly.

Sewall-Belmont House (National Woman's Party Headquarters)

The Sewall–Belmont House, now the site of the Belmont–Paul Women's Equality National Monument, is famous for serving as the headquarters for the National Woman's Party from 1929 for nearly 90 years. Originally founded by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns to…

Colorado Building

Constructed in 1922, the Colorado Building was designed by architect George S. Townsend. In designing the nine-story office building, Townsend adapted the style of the Italian Renaissance. Marble, stone and brick went into the construction. The…

Willard Hotel

Designed by New York architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh (1847-1918), the Willard Hotel opened in 1901 as DC’s first skyscraper. The building successfully adapts the eclectic Beaux Arts vocabulary of French domestic architecture to the rigors of…

Treasury Department

Built between 1836 and 1869, the Treasury Department building is the work of five major American architects—Robert Mills, Thomas U. Walter, Ammi B. Young, Isaiah Rogers, and Alfred B. Mullett. Conceived and built in the Greek Revival style that…

American Peace Society (Charles C. Glover House)

Built in 1878 for banker Charles Carroll Glover, this large Victorian townhouse was designated as a National Historic Landmark due to its association with the American Peace Society, which used the building as its national headquarters from 1911 to…

Constitution Hall, Daughters of the American Revolution

Built and owned by the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Constitution Hall was designed by eminent architect John Russell Pope in 1924 in a Neoclassical style. Constructed between 1928 and 1930, the building houses a large…

Central Public Library

Built between 1899 and 1902 by architects Ackerman & Ross, who had been selected in a national design competition, the Central Public Library was the first public building in DC to be built in the Beaux Arts style. The library is one of 1,679…

Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site

This row house is notable for its significance as the headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) and as the DC residence of Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955), educator and civil rights leader. The row house transitioned from a…

General Federation of Women’s Clubs Headquarters

This house at 1734 N Street, NW is located on a quiet residential street near Dupont Circle, an area developed by wealthy Washingtonians in the 1870s as they constructed opulent living spaces. Although most of the buildings are now used as offices,…

Mary Church Terrell House

Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954) earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Oberlin College during the 1880s and taught in Ohio and Washington, DC. Following the completion of her graduate degree, Mary Church traveled and studied languages abroad.…

Mary Ann Shadd Cary House

From 1881 to 1885, this was the home of Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893), who was a writer, journalist, educator, abolitionist, and lawyer. She is generally regarded as the first Black female journalist in North America and Canada’s first female…

Francis Griffith Newlands Memorial Fountain

The Aquia Creek sandstone Francis Griffith Newlands Memorial Fountain is sixty feet in diameter and incorporates a single bronze nozzle, located at the center, that sprays a jet of water approximately thirty feet high. The fountain is named for the…