CHEYENNE – In 1917, a plaque was placed on 17th Street to commemorate where the resolution allowing women the right to vote was passed.
After 102 years of wear-and-tear damage, the plaque was sent to Pennsylvania to be restored, and it’s now on display once again.
A dedication ceremony was held Thursday afternoon to unveil the refinished plaque, along with a new mural honoring the advocates who helped grant suffrage to the women of Wyoming, as part of the state’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage. About 75 people gathered on Carey Avenue in the same place the first Territorial Legislature passed the resolution that granted women the right to vote.
The plaque “can now reside and shine in a highly visible location on this building for all to see and remember the signing of the first women’s suffrage bill,” said Jeanette Hursman of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
The Cheyenne Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution formed in 1900 to perpetuate the memory of the revolution with historical monuments. The chapter donated the original bronze plaque in 1917.
Since then, it “was generally neglected, but not forgotten,” Hursman said. “As 2019 approached, we knew it was the perfect timing to have it restored to its original beauty.”
Now, the refinished plaque is on display next to a mural of suffragettes who fought for the right to vote. The mural, designed by Chris Hoffmeister, was unveiled on the side of Sue and Jim Byre’s building during the ceremony. It was developed in partnership with Visit Cheyenne and the city, according to Visit Cheyenne CEO Darren Rudloff.
“I feel honored to have been asked, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out,” Hoffmeister said. She said the best part for her was hearing positive feedback from the community.
It depicts influential women of the time, as well as the Thomas McLeland building, which originally sat at the location and hosted the post office. Members of the League of Women Voters, who were also in attendance, posed as inspiration for the mural during one of this year’s Cheyenne Frontier Days parades.
“This is truly a great thing for Cheyenne and a great thing for Wyoming,” Mayor Marian Orr said.
During the ceremony, Orr recalled voting for the first time at age 18 and how easy it was to take that right for granted.
“This right I was granted was but for the sake of countless women before me who used their voices, who wrote letters of petition, who organized, who marched and who made it happen,” Orr said. “This is why this mural is so incredibly important.”