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'Suffragettes' Spotted In Indianapolis

Last updated on Thursday, June 27, 2013

(INDIANAPOLIS) - If you saw ‘suffragettes’ just north of downtown Indianapolis Wednesday night, your eyes weren’t playing tricks on you.

The women dressed as the women's rights supporters of yesteryear were picketing for a different cause - raising money to help restore the historic house that's linked to an actual suffragette - one of the most famous in history.

The home at 1410 North Delaware built by beer baron John Schmidt in 1890 has belonged to the Propylaeum club of Indianapolis since 1923. The club was founded by May Wright Sewall as a cultural and social center for women, just a few years after she helped lead the national effort to secure the right to vote for women.

The structure is largely the same as it has been since it's construction, and historian Nelson Price, who is on the Propylaeum's board, says that's why they need help. Price says the main need is repair to the slate roof, original to the house.

Since the Propylaeum house is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is located within an historic neighborhood, Price says that makes replacing the roof expensive. He says National Register listing means the outside appearance of the house cannot change, and says problems with the roof are leading to electrical and other problems within the house.

Though May Wright Sewall died before the Propylaeum moved into the house, Mrs. Sewall attended a fundraiser at the home Wednesday night.

Propylaeum member Jan Conner Wahls was dressed as Mrs. Sewall, a role she frequently plays. She gave brief talks to those attending as if she was the suffrage leader, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of Mrs. Sewall's life.

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