BATTENVILLE – On the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote and the efforts of suffragist Susan B. Anthony toward that goal, the former Capital Region resident was honored at both the local and national level.
It was a day devoted to Anthony and the suffrage movement as construction crews continued to work on stabilizing the home she lived in from the ages of 13 to 19 in the town of Greenwich in Washington County.
“Years of damage are being reversed and this home is being brought back to life,” Erik Kulleseid, state parks commissioner, said. “Under the project, work is underway to stabilize the roof, repair broken masonry, fix the drainage and deal with years of water and mold damage. All this will put the house into shape for future reuse to tell the story of Susan B. Anthony.
“To aid that effort, a purchase from the state’s environmental protection fund, a purchase agreement to purchase the four acres [and Stoops Hotel]. Having this piece of property will allow us to appropriately welcome the public safely onto this property so we can fully interpret the history here.”
Adjacent to two-lane Route 29 and a curve in Battenville, the former home has a sign designating the landmark, but nothing that would allow it to be a destination.
Funds for the stabilization of the Anthony home of $695,00 and the adjacent property purchase of $130,500 came from the New York Works, a $250,000 grant obtained by state Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake, and another grant from state Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury.
“I always thought that there had to be a way to preserve and do something about this house,” Little said. “It was part of her life and when you thought to think about the years she was here, 13 to 19, those are the years when a girl notices things, like only the men were voting, men were making decisions, all the people in the office were men. The worst part was that your pay went to your husband or father, that is the ultimate offense.
“… so here we are many years later. We thank them, we thank all the women who have worked so hard.”
Woerner followed up by thanking Little, who is retiring as a state senator, and recounting her own memories learning about Anthony.
“As a young girl I read countless biographies of Susan B. Anthony, of Elizabeth Cady-Stanton,” Woerner said. “I had no idea as a young girl of age 10, 12, that someday I would be an elected official and more than that I would be in a position to help bring to the public a historic site to honor her work and her life in a community that I love so much.”
Woerner expressed both the historic and economic impact the newly developed site will have.
“We know that heritage tourists stay twice as long and spend three times as much money as people who are just recreational tourists,” she said. “The potential that investing in a historic site of this significance here in Washington County, the first one in Washington County, is a really positive economic story.”
But the day was not without its own controversy.
As the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation hosted a press conference to make an announcement regarding the continued work on Susan B. Anthony’s young adult home and nearby property, President Donald Trump announced earlier that he would be pardoning the celebrated woman.
“She was guilty for voting,” Trump said on Tuesday, as reported by the New York Times, “and we’re going to be signing a full and complete pardon.”
The pardon by Trump brought the ire of New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who was attending another Anthony celebration in her adult hometown of Rochester.
“She was proud of her arrest to draw attention to the cause for women’s rights, and never paid her fine,” Hochul wrote on Twitter. “Let her Rest In Peace, @realDonaldTrump.”
The tweet followed Hochul’s comments at the Rochester event to rochesterfirst.com.
“I was deeply troubled to learn that Trump went ahead and treated her like a criminal,” Hochul said. “Susan B. Anthony was guilty of nothing.”
“She was proud of her arrest to draw attention to the cause for women’s rights, and never paid her fine. Let her Rest in Peace,” Hochul said. “I stopped a long time trying to figure out why he does what he does, but this was not to honor her. I don’t know why he did what he did, but I assure you it was not with the best interest of the public at heart.”
Anthony was arrested for casting her vote in the 1872 presidential election in Rochester, before passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
A week later, Anthony and 14 others, including her sisters, Wilma, Hannah and Mary, were arrested and charged with voting unlawfully. She was ordered to play a $100 fine – she never did.
Anthony died in 1906 at the age of 86. The 19th Amendment prohibits states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex.
No timeline was announced for when the home would be open to the public.