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President to host afternoon tea to honor WCA Home’s 125th anniversary
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

President to host afternoon tea to honor WCA Home’s 125th anniversary

President Virginia Horvath will host a tea party, open to the public, to help commemorate the 125th anniversary of the WCA Home on Sunday, Oct. 15, from 2 to 4 p.m., at Lanford House at 194 Central Ave.

Tea, light snacks, dessert and live music and presentations by Fredonia students will be featured, along with raffle prizes and auctions to benefit the WCA Home. All proceeds raised by the sale of tickets -- $20 for adults and $10 for students and children under the age of 18 – will go to the WCA Home. Lanford House is the official residence of the Fredonia president.

The special anniversary of the WCA Home coincides with the 100-year anniversary of women's suffrage in the state of New York.
The importance of the WCA Home extends well beyond its work today. Since its inception 125 years ago, grassroots efforts of local women associated with the home fought for political equality through compassionate social advocacy, ultimately earning suffrage for women in New York State in 1917 ̶ three years before national suffrage was achieved.

The lives and histories of these women will be on display at the tea party, telling the story of their work at the home and towards political equality for women.

"Whether born in New England or in Fredonia, our founders had many of the same life experiences: most had reached the middle class and built the beautiful homes that still exist on our village streets. They were the sisters and wives of Civil War Union soldiers,” said Christine Davis Mantai, president of the WCA Home board of directors.

“They were well-off and yet about half experienced the death of a child due to disease. Both old and young were temperance women and believed in giving women the vote. They were devoted to the local Protestant churches, and some had teaching diplomas. None worked outside the home unless they were involved in their husbands' businesses."

The rich history of the WCA Home, as well as the history of the women’s suffrage campaign in Chautauqua County, is being highlighted by students in Associate Professor of English Emily VanDette’s Senior Seminar.

"Many people pass the home on Temple Street and wonder what it is and why it's there, so this research will answer that question in a big way,” Ms. Mantai said. “The home wouldn't exist without a unique group of women of Fredonia's horse and buggy days. Their names will be familiar to Fredonia history buffs, but those names have never been connected to the WCA Home before. Nor is it realized how much of themselves they put into the project.”

Dr. VanDette said she is delighted that her students have the opportunity to collaborate with the WCA Home and other local community partners to shine a light on local women's history. “The dual occasions of the WCA Home's 125-year anniversary and the centennial of women's suffrage in New York give us plenty to commemorate in the local community, especially given the large role Chautauqua County women played in the these grassroots efforts in the 19th century,” she added.

More information about the tea party can be found online by clicking on the teapot online, or by calling the WCA Home at 672-7961.

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State University of New York at Fredonia