Wesleyan Chapel Virtual Tour (Audio Described)

Women's Rights National Historical Park


Welcome to the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel The first Women’s Rights Convention was held at this church on July 19 and 20th in 1848. The original red brick church was sold by the congregation in 1981 and was extensively renovated by subsequent owners. When the National Park Service purchased the building in 1985, very little of the original church remained. This audio description utilizes the hours on a clock to provide directional information. 12 o’clock represents the area at the screen's top and center. Nine o’clock represents the middle of the left side. Outside the church includes a long low wayside information exhibit at about 7 o’clock. There are three graphic panels outside, about twelve feet from the building and 25 feet to the left of the entrance. From right to left, these panels are titled "The Wesleyan Chapel: 1843 to 1871," "The Wesleyan Chapel: 1871 to 1985," and "The Wesleyan Chapel: 1985 to today."

The Chapel is a two-story building. The beige double-front doors are centered with windows on each side of the doors. On the second floor there are three windows. Near the top of the building there is a small full chord window also referred to as a semi-circle window. It has a sloping roof. There is an extra wide sidewalk in front of the chapel that is made of large rectangular pavers in various shades of beige, tan and light gray.

The Wesleyan Chapel is about 40 feet wide by 60 feet deep. The flooring is made of narrow stone planking, which is uneven in some places. The two-story-tall side walls are brick. Some of it is old and rough. Other sections are modern restoration. In a few places sections of historic plaster remain, now covered by glass for protection. The front and rear walls are smooth and painted white. There are four windows down each side of the building with a second row of windows directly above them. Heavy dark brown wooden beams support the peaked ceiling. Beginning on either side of the entrance and continuing along the front part of the side walls is a metal bar tracing the outline of stairs that led to the original galleries which would have extended along each side wall. The center of the room is filled with rows of long wooden pews. The seats are covered with dark red upholstered cushions and the ends of the pews are made of wrought iron. The pews face a raised platform at the far end, about 18 inches high with a drapery skirt. The pews, altar, and altar rail are located as accurately as possible to represent the interior of the chapel during Convention.

At the rear of the pews, 14 feet in from the entrance, a semi-transparent mural extends all the way to the floor and shows a wainscoted wall at the back of the pews with a board for coat pegs running along it at shoulder height. In front of this simulated wall, five feet to your left is a statue of a woman in a long dress. To the right of the statue a free-standing wooden frame holds a small sign that reads, "Welcome to the Wesleyan Chapel, Home of the Wesleyan Methodist Congregation and the First Woman’s Rights Convention." The exhibits consist mainly of graphic panels located along the walls.

In this front corner of the room there are two large displays on four-foot by six-foot wood panels. One is on the entrance wall, to the right of the front windows, and the other is on the side wall. The panel on the entrance wall is titled "Panel 1, Finding a Voice and a Venue." Text reads, "BASED on long-standing laws and tradition, women in the 19th century were second-class citizens. Informed by anti-slavery and other reform movements, the First Woman’s Rights Convention brought attention to a long list of grievances." Below the text are three graphic panels. From left to right they are titled "Coming Together," "Planning the Convention," and "The Wesleyan Chapel." On either side of the panel, and passing behind it, is a black metal bar representing the outline of steps which would have led to the upper galleries.

The panel on the side wall is similar in size and format and hangs to the right of the first window along that wall. The metal stair outline continues up above it. This panel is titled "Panel 2, The Two-Day Spark." Text reads, "THE two days of the convention were packed and intense. Approximately 300 women, children, and men attended sessions. The work of the planners and the success of the convention ignited a movement that changed the nation and touched the world." Below the text are three graphic panels. From left to right they are titled "July 19, 1848," "July 20, 1848," and "Allies and Opponents."

Text on the left side of this small panel reads, “In the Galleries, Imagine the second day of the convention: excited attendees crowd the first floor and the galleries; the entire chapel bakes in the hot July sun. Many people present at the convention were significant participants in the ongoing struggle for women’s rights. Can you find these historical faces in the gallery?" On the right side of the panel are 10 pages that can be flipped up, each identifying a person with text on the right and an image on the left. The first page has Deborah Scott Crittenden. Text reads, "Waterloo native Deborah Scott signed the Declaration of Sentiments at age 23. In 1853, she married Charles Crittenden in California where she opened San Jose’s first school and taught for 30 years. She was a member of the Susan B. Anthony Club of San Francisco when California passed woman suffrage in 1911." The image shows a woman with white hair pulled into a bun on the top back of her head.

In the center of this back wall is a raised platform or stage area. The stage is 16 feet wide and extends 8 feet out from the back wall. It stands a foot and a half tall and has a gray drapery skirt around it. At the left front corner of the stage is a small free-standing sign titled "Re-creating the Chapel's Interior." behind the stage is a floor-to-ceiling scrim that is slightly wider than the pews. On the scrim is a color illustration showing the morning session of the convention's second day. In the center, standing behind a wooden podium, is Elizabeth Cady Stanton. On the left side stand two men, Frederick Douglass, who is Black, and James Mott, who is White. On the right side stand two women in long dresses, Mary Ann M'Clintock, Sr., and Lucretia Mott. The backdrop is based on the only existing photo of the chapel’s interior from around 1858, and the podium (now housed in the visitor center) used by the congregation in 1871, which may have been present for the convention. At the left front corner of the stage is a small free-standing sign titled "Re-creating the Chapel's Interior." Text at the upper left of this small panel reads, "The galleries, pews, altar, and altar rail are located as accurately as possible to represent the chapel's interior during the First Woman’s Rights Convention." At the lower left is a historical photograph showing a view from behind some of the pews towards the end of the chapel. A group of men and women are posed there in two rows. The caption reads, " This circa 1858 image of the pastor, superintendent, and Sunday school teachers is the only existing image of the chapel’s interior."

Overhead mural banners hang along each side and at the rear of the pews. The murals show men, women, and children as they might have looked sitting in the galleries. The individuals depicted in the galleries are a combination of actual attendees, and the artist’s interpretation of the community that would have come to listen and discuss the day's issues.

There are two, small, free-standing panels along the east wall. The first sits under the first window on the side wall and is titled "Gone but not Forgotten." The second small panel is a few feet to the left of that one and is titled "Celebrating the Contributions of Their Forebears." On the brick wall above that panel is a bronze plaque which reads in part "On this site stood the Wesleyan Chapel where the First Woman's Rights Convention in the Worlds history was held." In a free-standing metal frame on the floor is an exhibit titled: “Celebrating the Contributions of Their Forebears.” Text on the left side of this small panel reads, "Since 1848, descendants of the convention’s founders and attendees have come back to the chapel to honor the actions of these brave reformers. The legacy of these women’s rights crusaders continues today. Their example inspires activism for this and future generations." At right is a photograph showing a crowd of men and women gathered around three women in black who sit in front of a brick wall draped with American flags. Both men and women wear hats. The caption reads, "The 60th anniversary of the Seneca Falls convention launched a new New York State suffrage campaign led by Harriot Stanton Blatch, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s daughter."


Audio Described video of the 3D tour of the Wesleyan Chapel. Accompanies the Matterport 3D tour function.


8 minutes, 38 seconds

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