The house at 144 Constitution Avenue NE in Washington, D.C. has an interesting history. First constructed by the Sewall family in 1799 near the new U.S. Capitol building, it was burned by British troops during the War of 1812. After being renovated by Vermont Senator Porter H. Dale in the 1920s, it was purchased by Alva Vanderbilt Belmont as a replacement headquarters for the National Woman’s Party (NWP). In 1972, it was named the Sewall-Belmont National Historic Site, affiliated with the National Park Service (NPS), who took over full control when it was established as a National Monument in 2016.
Historic artifacts, sculptures, tours
Free tours are given at specific times (see Hours below) by the NPS, but otherwise visitors can read the museum displays on both floors of the house. The name Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument refers to the aforementioned Alva Vanderbilt Belmont and Alice Paul, a militant suffragette who was arrested during World War I for picketing outside the White House. The protesters were attacked by men on the street, vilified in the newspapers, and abused in prison where they were force-fed during hunger strikes. In August 1920, these brave women achieved vindication with the passing of the 19th Amendment allowing all women the right to vote in the U.S.A.
The Sewell House has a placard outside as part of the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail. In 1814, the British believed there were snipers posted inside the house and burned it down, one of the few private residences destroyed during their march through Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812.
A statue of Joan of Arc greets visitors in the front hallway of the house. Our tour guide said that the statue is attached to the house’s foundation and is completely immovable.
There is no designated parking lot, so you have to find street parking or take the Metro.
Explore More – In August 1920, which state became the 36th to ratify the 19th Amendment, officially adding it to the U.S. Constitution?