In 1915, the National Women’s Party came to Charleston. For 75 years prior, women had worked tirelessly for the vote: some went to jail, some went on hunger strikes, some traversed the country on rails to speak and be spat upon. But countless women joined the movement for suffrage, imagining a world in which their minds might matter.
One evening in July, the national leaders of this spirited movement came to the home of Susan Pringle Frost, an ardent suffragist who regularly hosted the Charleston meeting of activists in her parlor. Even as she worked impatiently for change, Susan Pringle Frost worked with equal passion for preservation, writing benefactors in the north for funds to restore our crumbling architectural gems. With patronage, she boughtdilapidated buildings to prevent their demise, restored them, and founded the Society for the Preservation of Old Dwellings - one of our country’s first preservation organizations, still alive in a city now known for it’s charmingly gracious homes. Susan Pringle Frost is a model for preserving what is true and beautiful in our past, and changing what is not.
In the photograph above, the National Women’s Party members come billowing out of Susan’s home. Which is now my home. These are the stairs I climb each day. Hers is the parlor in which I entertain the ibu of the world. Every day, I’m humbled to live in the house where women hammered out my right to matter.
I would not trade that right for anything. I will stand in long lines next Tuesday and wait my turn to be counted. To do less would dishonor all of those who went before, who opened this way for women, not just to vote - but one day, even now, 100 years later, to be voted upon.
All the best,
Susan Hull Walker