‘Suspicious’ fire destroys front porch of Susan B. Anthony home and museum | Smart News


The fire destroyed the property’s porch, which was built over 100 years ago but was not originally part of the house.
Susan B. Anthony House

Authorities are investigating a “suspicious” fire in Susan B. Anthony National Museum and House in Rochester, New York. The blaze erupted early Sunday morning, destroying the back porch of the building, which once served as the home of the women’s rights leader, reports Randy Gorbman for WXXI News.

President and CEO of the museum Deborah Hugues said cameras from the property showed someone on the porch when the fire started. The local office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) works with investigators from the Rochester Fire Department (RFD) on the probe.

“We don’t know why someone would do this,” said Hughes CNNIt’s Alaa Elassar. “It could be a random or intentional act, or it could be someone who responded that the museum supports women’s rights since we are in a controversial era. It’s hard to know for sure.

According to Spectrum 1 NewsCongressman Joe Morelle held a conference outside the museum on Saturday in support of the federal government Women’s Health Protection Act, which would protect access to abortion. Hughes tells WXXI that she knows of no connection between the event and the fire.

Speaking to CNN, RFD spokesman Lt. Jeffrey Simpson said the interior of the house had suffered water and smoke damage, but added that the fire was largely confined to the porch.

Hughes praised the firefighters’ swift work in removing photographs and other objects from a wall to protect them from damage while simultaneously putting out the flames, Rachel Treisman reports for NPR. Although the porch is over 100 years old, it was not part of the original building constructed in 1859 and had no particular historical significance, according to the WXXI.

Born in 1820, Antoine was raised as a Quaker and spent much of her life as an abolitionist and advocate for women’s rights. She worked with other activists such as Frédéric douglass and Elizabeth cady stanton. Anthony is widely regarded as one of the founders of the first women’s rights movement. But in recent years she has come under increased scrutiny due to her Racist Thoughts and exclusion of black suffragists mainstream movement, as Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers wrote for the New York Times Last year.

Anthony lived in the house from 1865, when she moved there with her mother and sister, as instructed by the museum website. The house was the site of Anthony’s arrest in 1872 for voting “illegally”. In 1892, when she was elected president of the American National Association for Women’s Suffrage (NAWSA), she set up the organization’s headquarters in the building.


The house was the site of Anthony’s arrest in 1872 for voting “illegally”.

Walter Colley House / Susan B. Anthony

The third floor of the house, added in 1895, became the workspace where Anthony and his fellow women’s rights activists researched and wrote the six volumes History of women’s suffrage. Anthony died in the house on March 13, 1906, 14 years before the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave some, but not all, American women the right to vote.

Hughes tells the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle‘s Victoria E. Freile that due to the property’s status as national monument, the reconstruction process will be long. The house will also need to be professionally cleaned to remove the smell of smoke. A message on the site Web page notes that the museum is temporarily closed but hopes to return to usual hours soon.

“It’s so clear how much this house means to the community, our neighbors and even our firefighters,” Hughes told CNN. “They were deeply moved not only to take the responsibility seriously, but to feel that it is a national treasure. What could have been truly tragic, thanks to the incredible work of the firefighters, was a sad loss, but all will be well. “

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