National Women’s Hall of Fame Opens New Headquarters

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ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) – Plans have been underway for years to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which recognized women’s right to vote.

The celebration was planned for this summer in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region with parades and flotillas, speeches and gatherings scheduled. But, the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to many of the festivities.

Introductory exhibits at the new headquarters of the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls. CREDIT BRAD VANDUSEN

Throughout all this, the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls was still determined to open its new headquarters at the historic Seneca Knitting Mill on Canal Street.

“It would have broken our hearts not to be able to open this year,” said Kate Bennett, president of the Hall’s board of directors. “It did take ten years to get this building to a habitable state and put in the exhibits, so this is a big, long-term, lots of people doing a lot of work celebration. So we wanted it to happen this year.”

This month, the first floor of the newly renovated space opened to the public. It features exhibits telling the history of the suffrage movement, the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls in 1848, and showcasing the 287 American women who were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“(The exhibits) also tell some neat stories about how some women were overlooked when they invented things and men got credit for some of their inventions,” Bennett added.

Online appointments can be made at womenofthehall.org.  The Hall is raising money to expand to the second and third floor.  Bennett said that will require the installation of an exterior stairway and elevator.