Secretary Jewell, Director Jarvis Participate in Meeting on Community’s Vision for Sewall-Belmont House

Public responds to feasibility study to help determine how to preserve one of the nation’s premier women’s history sites

Last edited 09/29/2021

Date: April 5, 2016
Contacts: Amanda DeGroff,

WASHINGTON – On Monday, April 4, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis met with community members to hear their vision for the future management of the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum in Washington, D.C., which is currently proposed to become a unit of the National Park System. The property is a national historic landmark that was home to one of the 20th century’s most significant women’s rights movements.

“Located just steps from the U.S. Capitol, the Sewall-Belmont House has served as a stronghold in the fight for women’s equality,” Secretary Jewell said. “We greatly value the views of the community in determining how to best preserve this important place and the story it tells of America’s march toward women’s equality and the women of courage who called it home.”

Jewell and Jarvis were joined by federal and local officials, National Woman’s Party leaders, and other community members.

Located on Capitol Hill, the Sewall-Belmont House includes a museum, library, and extensive collections and archives associated with the National Woman’s Party, its founder Alice Paul, and the mission to advance women's rights throughout the 20th century. It was designated a national historic landmark and a National Park System affiliated area in 1974.

Close to 200 people attended the meeting, and approximately 70 submitted comments.  Almost all the commenters expressed support for prompt action to include the Sewall-Belmont House in the National Park System, with most also expressing support for the president to use the authority of the Antiquities Act to achieve this goal.

“The National Woman’s Party and the National Park Service share a unique history having both been formed in 1916 and having worked closely together since the Sewall-Belmont House became a National Park System affiliated area in 1974,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “As we both look forward to a second century of stewardship, the National Park Service is ready to further strengthen our joint efforts to ensure that future generations may learn and cherish the story of women’s progress to full equality.”

In June 2015, the National Park Service submitted to Secretary Jewell a feasibility study – initiated at the request of former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar – that analyzes different management options and discusses the historical importance of the house, which has been owned and operated by the National Woman's Party since 1929.

The study has been provided to the House and Senate committees on appropriations. The U.S. Department of the Interior will carefully consider feedback received during the meeting in future preservation efforts related to the site.

New additions to the National Park System can be accomplished by an act of Congress or by presidential designation. The first step in that process is frequently a National Park Service study, like the one completed last year for Sewall-Belmont House. In Congress, a bill can be introduced to designate an area as a national park unit. That bill must then be approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, then signed into law by the president.

A unit of the National Park System can also be created through the use of the Antiquities Act, which allows the president to designate a site as a national monument. Since the enactment of the Antiquities Act in 1906, most presidents have used the authority, resulting in the establishment of almost 140 national monuments and assuring the protection of their historic or scientific resources. Later, Congress has often revisited these areas and re-designated them as national parks or other types of National Park System units. Almost half of the national parks in the National Park System today were first protected as national monuments under the Antiquities Act.

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