Constructed in 1861, the Union Block building has anchored the north side of the Mount Pleasant square for 158 years. Here in 1869, Belle Babb Mansfield passed a rigorous bar examination, becoming the first female lawyer in the United States. Mansfield then became active in the local, state and national women’s suffrage movement, including chairing the first Iowa Women’s Suffrage Convention in Mount Pleasant in 1870.
Continuously occupied until ravaged by fire in 2011, the building was renovated and rededicated in 2014. Funding will help restore the exterior elements not included in that most recent renovation—namely, the east side gable and 32 museum-quality storm windows for the trefoil windows.
American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in collaboration with Main Street America, announced today that their annual Partners in Preservation campaign this year will shine a light on historic buildings and sites celebrating the contributions of women in local communities across the country.
In honor of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote, the Partners in Preservation program will feature 20 sites that each play a role in highlighting and raising awareness for the often unrecognized contributions of women to American history and society. From the home of Colorado’s first female African American doctor in Denver, to famed author Harper Lee’s hometown courthouse in Monroeville, Alabama, these sites celebrate the triumphs, struggles and rich history of women in America.
Beginning today through Oct. 29, anyone can vote for their favorite Partners in Preservation: Main Streets at VoteYourMainStreet.org. The voting platform is hosted by media partner National Geographic, and Delta Air Lines is also joining as a campaign sponsor for the third year in a row. People can cast up to five votes each day of the campaign. The historic sites with the most votes will receive a share of $2 million in preservation funding from American Express, and each local partner is receiving an initial grant of $10,000 to increase public awareness of the importance of these historic places and build grassroots support for their Main Street district. Winning districts will be announced on Oct. 30.
“At American Express, we have long valued a culture that reflects and celebrates the world around us,” said Timothy J. McClimon, President, American Express Foundation. “Backing the communities where our customers and colleagues live and work is vital to what we do. We’re committed to historic preservation by bringing attention and support to buildings and landmarks that celebrate the contributions of women this year.”
“You cannot tell the full story of America without including the many incredible contributions women have made to our country’s history,” said Katherine Malone-France, Chief Preservation Officer at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “By highlighting historic places on main streets across America that are telling the stories of women, we hope to not only preserve these sites, but also amplify the women who have made our main streets what they are today.”
Partners in Preservation is a community-based partnership, created in 2006, to engage the public in preserving historic places. Over the past 13 years, the program has provided more than $28 million in support of 260 historic sites across the U.S., including 20 national parks, 14 cities, and 12 main street communities, and has engaged more than a million people through events and online voting. Partners in Preservation: Main Streets is back for its third year in a row and seeks to inspire long-term support from local citizens for sites on Main Streets across the country.
For more information and to vote daily through Oct. 29, the public is encouraged to visit VoteYourMainStreet.org.