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Historic Preservation

Virtual Walking Tour: Women's Suffrage in Fort Collins#

Want to explore some of the places where Fort Collins residents helped make women's suffrage a reality? Check out this virtual walking tour of some sites around Old Town related to the 1893 and 1919 movements and the people that made it happen. 

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1 - Elizabeth Stone's Cabin, 200 Mathews St., in Library Park#

Left: Elizabeth "Auntie" Stone, one of the founders of Fort Collins and an active suffragette, c.1890 (H03002); Top right: Tedmon House/Cottage House Hotel. Stone purchased and operated this hotel at 262 Jefferson Street in 1882 (H02447); Bottom right: Stone Cabin after its first move on Mason Avenue between Oak and Olive Streets, c.1909 (All images Courtesy of the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery). 

Elizabeth Stone is considered a founder of Fort Collins and was a prominent suffragette in the movement leading up to state-wide approval of women’s voting in 1893. She arrived in Fort Collins in 1864 with her husband, Judge Lewis Stone, to run the officers’ mess hall at the short-lived military post. When her husband passed away in 1866, she took over his duties at Fort Collins and converted their modest cabin into a public hotel the following year. During the first two decades of the town’s development, Stone co-established the area’s first grist mill, started the region’s first brick yard, and went on to run two of downtown Fort Collins’ most prominent hotels. Her old cabin eventually became a schoolhouse. Stone was among the community’s strongest supporters for suffrage and voted for the first time in the city’s municipal election in 1894 at the age of 93. She passed away one year later. Her cabin has been preserved as part of a small City Landmark District in Library Park.

2 - Lucy McIntyre's Residence, 137-143 Mathews St.#

Left: Lucy McIntyre, c.1911 (Courtesy of Fort Collins Museum of Discovery); Right: 137-143 Mathews Street (Fort Collins Historic Preservation Services). 

Lucy McIntyre was among the most prominent leaders of Fort Collins’ social organizations and suffrage movement in the late 1800s. Lucy and her husband Josiah arrived in 1878. Lucy was a charter member of the local chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, a national women’s organization that advocated for both women’s suffrage and prohibition of alcohol. McIntyre also founded the Chautauqua Circle, a small organization she hosted in her parlor for Fort Collins men and women to discuss current issues. McIntyre was originally from Erie County, Pennsylvania and is believed to have been inspired by the Chautauqua movement that began nearby in New York. McIntyre hosted meetings and other suffrage events at her home, wrote articles for local newspapers, and gave speeches throughout the 1880s into the 1910s, not only pressing for statewide suffrage, but supporting national suffrage as well. She passed away in 1940.

3 - Fort Collins City Hall, 232 Walnut Street#

Left: City Hall & Fire Station, c.1882 - Alice Edwards would have served in the city offices on the second floor during her tenure (H00188, Courtesy of the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery); Right: Fort Collins City Hall (1882-1957) (Fort Collins Historic Preservation Services). 

What is now Old Firehouse Books was originally the combined city hall and fire station for most of Fort Collins’ early years. Many small communities in the western United States combined all city functions in one building housing only a city clerk for administration and record keeping and a city engineer for street platting and water system development. All other public functions, including firefighting, were usually filled by volunteers. In 1894, women participated for the first time in a Fort Collins election and Alice Edwards became the first woman elected as an alderwoman for the city (what eventually became City Council). She only served on the town’s council for a year, but in that time served on several public committees for streets, alleys, bridges, and fire inspection, and helped push through a ban on alcohol sales in city limits. It was reported at the time that she was the first woman in Colorado to be elected to municipal office. It is preserved as part of the Old Town City Landmark District.

4 - Ault's Hall and Opera House, 113 & 123 N. College Ave.#

Left: Opera House and Ault's Hall to the left, c.1903-1906 (H15877, Courtesy of the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery); Right: The buildings today (Fort Collins Historic Preservation Services).

These two buildings in downtown Fort Collins were at the heart of the movement for suffrage in Fort Collins. Several meetings and other events of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union took place here between the 1880s and the 1910s. Some of the most pivotal speeches were given in these buildings as well. It was in the Opera House in October 1893 that national suffragette Carrie Chapman gave a speech in favor of suffrage just prior to the impending statewide referendum on the topic. Chapman, along with Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone, was among the most prominent national advocates for women’s suffrage and campaigned in favor of the referendum in Colorado for two months in September and October. The Opera House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and the Colorado Register of Historic Places. 

5 - First Christian Church (demolished), 400 S. College Ave.#

Left: The First Christian Church in 1966, after the original assembly had been replaced in 1950. The building was later demolished for new construction after the congregation moved to south Fort Collins (H17806a, Courtesy of the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery); Right: 1901 Sanborn Map showing the original brick church at the southeast corner of Magnolia and College (Library of Congress). 

Churches and schools both served as important organizing and meeting spaces for suffragettes throughout the movement. In 1893, leading up to the referendum, the First Christian Church congregation met in a floor tent near downtown. The First Christian supported suffrage, and hosted an Equal Suffrage meeting in September. Most importantly, the Church hosted both a practice caucus and mock convention for newly minted women voters in early 1894, teaching the basics of how to participate in party politics and the selection of candidates. The congregation built a brick church on this location in 1898, but it was demolished in 1950 to make way for a new brick sanctuary, which in turn was demolished in 1988 to make way for downtown’s third Safeway building.

6 - Routt Hall / Domestic Arts Building, 151 W. Laurel at Colorado State University#

Left: Theodosia Ammons, c.1900 (Courtesy of the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery); Right: Routt Hall, the former Domestic Arts Building, where Dr. Ammons taught (Fort Collins Historic Preservation Services). 

Dr. Theodosia Ammons was another prominent suffragette in Fort Collins and a leader on women’s issues in the region. While not prominent in the state-wide effort in 1893, she was one of the state leaders who organized on behalf of national suffrage. She served as the secretary of the Colorado Equal Suffrage Association in the late 1890s and would be elected its president in 1902. During that time, she constructed a Domestic Arts program at Colorado Agricultural College (now Colorado State University) to serve female students and was integral in developing some of the agriculture and domestic arts programs that would become standardized by the cooperative extension service. She taught in this building and gave speeches in favor of suffrage in the chapel at Old Main on campus. In the early 1900s she circulated with national suffrage organizations to push for a national amendment in favor of women’s right to vote. Unfortunately, she passed away in 1907 without seeing the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.

7 - Aylesworth Residence, 704 Mathews St.#

Left: Aylesworth Residence at 704 Mathews St. (Fort Collins Historic Preservation Services); Right: Dr. Barton Aylesworth, c.1906 (Courtesy of the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery).

Men joined the suffrage movement in large numbers leading up to both 1893 and 1920, with the all-male electorate voting for suffrage in Colorado in 1893. Dr. Barton Aylesworth was among the most prominent of Fort Collins’ men who advocated for women’s suffrage, primarily during the national effort leading up to 1920. Aylesworth came to Fort Collins in 1899 to serve as the Colorado Agricultural College’s fourth president. He and his wife first resided at the Corbin residence at 402 Remington, but had this home built in 1903. During his tenure, he pressed for balance in the College’s programs between agriculture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and domestic arts in equal parts. After stepping down in 1909, he took up a speaking contract with the National American Woman Suffrage Association to argue nationally in favor of women’s suffrage.

8 - Mrs. Sarah J. Corbin Residence (demolished), 402 Remington St.#

Left: The Sarah Corbin House prior to its demolition to make way for an office building in 1976 (H00905, Courtesy of the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery); Right: the corner where the Corbin House used to stand, as it looks today (Fort Collins Historic Preservation Services). 

Sarah Corbin worked alongside Lucy McIntyre as one of Fort Collins’ most prominent suffragettes. She and her husband Twiford Corbin arrived in 1880 and Sarah soon began advocating for suffrage, including serving in leadership roles in the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement. She hosted meetings for the organization at this residence, and served as the president of the Corbin and Black Lumber Company for a short period after her husband passed in 1896. Her most significant contribution to suffrage was hosting a four-week course about politics for women at her home in December of 1893, immediately following the successful referendum. She died in 1903 as a noted advocate for both prohibition and women’s right to vote.