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Women’s center opens new exhibit as renovations are completed

Anna Marie Coveny, director of the DeKalb Area Women's Center, 1021 S. State St. in DeKalb, discusses recent renovations at the center. She holds wood that was the threshold of the building. The building's threshold and landing were replaced.
Anna Marie Coveny, director of the DeKalb Area Women's Center, 1021 S. State St. in DeKalb, discusses recent renovations at the center. She holds wood that was the threshold of the building. The building's threshold and landing were replaced.

DeKALB – The DeKalb Area Women’s Center has a lot to celebrate: A new exhibit and the completion of renovation projects during the pandemic.

The exhibit, which opened Sept. 4 and runs through the middle of October, is titled “100th Anniversary of Woman Suffrage: 19th Amendment.” The exhibit commemorates the 100th anniversary of both the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which allowed women the right to vote, and the founding of the League of Women Voters. DeKalb County’s league is the oldest in Illinois and one of the oldest in the nation.

Anna Marie Coveny, director of the women’s center, said the exhibit is important to “help people remember the historical significance of the anniversaries.” She said the exhibit celebrates “herstory,” or female history, through photographs, stamps and books.

The exhibit highlights historically important women, including Abigail Adams, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt, Lucretia Mott, Jane Addams and Susan B. Anthony. The exhibit also features Black historical women, including Ida B. Wells and Sojourner Truth.

“Some of these women are not even covered in school and adults are just beginning to learn about the impact and contributions they have made,” Coveny said. “It’s hard for us to imagine that women did not have the right to speak in public, own property or vote. People don’t realize how courageous and persistent the women were. They had ‘stick-to-itiveness.’ ”

The exhibit also features displays about local women’s organizations, including DAWC, the League of Women Voters, which also is celebrating its 100th anniversary and the DeKalb Women’s Club.

During the pandemic, several renovations have been completed at the women’s center, including exterior painting, reconstruction of the veneer on the foyer doors and replacement of the threshold and landing at the main entrance. One corner of the foyer had a leak, and the plaster and lath were historically restored.

“We took advantage of some of the down time during the pandemic to complete some much-needed projects and renovation,” Coveny said. “We used as much of the 100-year-old rolled glass and 100-year-old growth wood as we could find on the premises. It was important for us to preserve this historic building.”

Visitors can view the new exhibit by appointment by emailing DeKalbAWC@gmail.com or by attending an open house held from 7 to 9 p.m. every Friday. Admission to the center is free; donations are accepted. Visitors are asked to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Those who comply will receive a prize in appreciation.

DAWC is collecting winter clothes, including coats, jackets, hats and gloves for its annual winter outerwear drive. The clothes will be given away free of charge the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

The annual DAWC Holiday Shopping Fair is planned for the first weekend in December if rules and regulations during the pandemic allow.

DAWC is located at 1021 S. State St. in DeKalb. There is street parking and a free parking lot on 11th Street, a half-block south of State Street.

For more information about the DeKalb Area Women’s Center, its latest exhibit or to become a member, email DeKalbAWC@gmail.com.

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