History

 

The Building for Women is a three-story, 21,000 square foot brick building located in Duluth’s “Old Downtown”. Renovation cost over $2.7 million and was paid for by individual donors and foundation grants. It features the Dr. Jane Hodgson Plaza, the main aesthetic of the building, and works by several local women artists.

“I think Duluth’s Building for Women is an inspirational model, because it rallied the whole community to take responsibility.“ -Eleanor Smeal, President of Feminist Majority Foundation

The concept of a women’s building in Duluth, Minnesota was first discussed in the early 1970’s when several of the community organizations which serve women and children opened their doors. At that time, the resources and energy necessary to buy and operate a building were not available – but the dream never died. Finally, in 1992, the vision of a multi-purpose women’s facility emerged anew. The catalyst for The Building for Women was the near certain closure of the Women's Health Center, which provides the only abortion services north of Minneapolis/St. Paul. In the summer of 1993, a Partnership of three nonprofit organizations – Women’s Health Center of Duluth, the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault (PAVSA) and the Young Women’s Christian Organization of Duluth – was formed. This partnership purchased an empty warehouse and began renovation in the fall. By January of 1994, The Building for Women was open, with the Women’s Health Center and PAVSA as its first tenants. Read about it in Self, May 1998 Article "A Fortress of Their Own".

The Building for Women is remarkable to its innovative response to the endless struggle for funding faced by nonprofits. ” -Eleanor Smeal, President of Feminist Majority Foundation.

Tenants in our Building provide services for women and children including but not limited to medical services, violence intervention, community organizing and celebrations.

“I have seen first hand how much this Building means to the women who work in it on a daily basis and to the many women who use it for meetings and other gatherings. ” -Joan Drury, Author

The Building for Women was selected in 1999 by the Minnesota Council on Foundations as one of four Duluth models for “achieving extraordinary balance” while working in the midst of chaos.

On June 29, 2000 at the Grand Re-Opening of The Building for Women and dedication of the new plaza, Hillary Rodham Clinton extended the following wishes:

"As you come together today, you work to achieve a common goal of improving the lives of women throughout your community. The services provided by the coalition members recognize the importance of offering women the opportunity to learn from and support one another. The fortunes of women are inextricably tied to the fortunes of our communities. If women flourish, then their families flourish. When families flourish, then the entire community flourishes. Your efforts celebrate the essential contributions women make to their family, profession, community and country."