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Union Chapel

Newbury, Ohio Circa 1856-1858

Newbury residents built the Union Chapel when the Congregational Church across the street refused to allow James Garfield to speak there, as they were concerned about the topic of his speech. The topic is today not known. Garfield, later the twentieth President of the United States, dedicated the Chapel to free speech. The Chapel became a community center, used for religious instruction, scientific lectures, meetings and addresses on public issues. The South Newbury Woman’s Suffrage Political Club, one of the oldest in the U.S., was organized here, and Louisa May Alcott and Susan B. Anthony are among those who have spoken here. In 1871 nine women cast illegal votes in the building for governor of Ohio, the first female voters in Ohio. A “Cold Water Army” of small boys pledged to lifelong abstinence from liquor also used the Chapel. Across the street to the north of the Chapel the Woman’s Suffrage Political Club planted an oak tree, intended to represent the growth of woman’s suffrage. Note: a plaque says the chapel was built in 1856, but Garfield’s diary indicates the events described above took place in 1857-8.

Architectural Style: American Vernacular

Address: Route 44, south of Newbury, Ohio

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