Today, President Obama will designate a new National Monument in Washington, D.C. In so naming the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, Obama will help protect and preserve the home of the National Woman’s Party, also known as the Sewall-Belmont House.
Named after two key players in the early days of the organization—Alva Belmont, who was a major benefactor of the National Woman's Party, and Alice Paul, who founded the Party and was the chief strategist—the house is one of the oldest historic mansions in the capital, located on 144 Constitution Avenue NE, near the Supreme Court and Senate office building. Robert Sewall constructed the first home on this site around 1800. Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin would move in and use the home during the Jefferson Administration. The building was the only site of resistance to the British invasion of D.C. in 1812 and was burned down; Sewell subsequently rebuilt it.
The home and headquarters of the National's Women Party since 1929, the building has been the scene of numerous legislative campaigns by the group, which has sponsored and advanced hundreds of laws supporting gender equality and equal pay, including ratification of the 19th amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. Now managed jointly by the National Park Service and the NWP (now an educational organization), the home contains a museum, library and extensive archives.
According to a statement by the White House, this is the culmination of decades of work to preserve the mansion beginning in the early ‘70s, including support from conservationists, elected officials, and community leaders. The National Park Foundation will also announce today that David Rubenstein will contribute $1 million to support the site and help address immediate renovation needs.
This designation strengthens President Obama’s impressive commitment to preservation. In addition to protecting nearly 265 million acres, his administration has made it a priority to protect and celebrate landmarks that reflect the nation’s cultural history, such as the Pullman National Monument.