Falls Church Developers Donate Big $ to New Suffrage Museum

FALLS CHURCH developers Todd Hitt (left) of Kiddar Capital and Rick Hausler of the Insight Property Group, look over a graphic of the pending women’s suffrage museum. Hitt was donated $250,000 to the museum. (Photo: News-Press)

The Falls Church-based Kiddar Capital announced this week that its CEO Todd Hitt has donated $250,000 to the Workhouse Arts Center to support a new museum honoring the women who fought for suffrage, the woman’s vote, that culminated in the ratification of 19th amendment in August, 1920. Hitt and his friend, Falls Church’s Rick Hausler, CEO of Insight Properties, are major benefactors of the museum and the Workhouse Arts Center.

With the help of their contributions, the Lucy Burns Museum, named for the American suffragist and women’s rights advocate, is expected to be completed by the end of 2017, on the 100th anniversary of the historic imprisonment of 72 women at the Lorton Prison that previously functioned on the museum’s site.

The location of the museum is particularly poignant, on the grounds of the Workhouse Arts Center, location of the former Lorton Prison, where the 72 women were imprisoned for up to seven months with beatings and force-feedings resulting from their suffrage struggle in Washington, D.C. The museum will be located in the original Cellblock W-2, where 38 cells from the old prison have been preserved as part of the current center’s 55-acre National Historic Register campus.

“Those iron jawed angels risked everything pursuing the right to vote, a right many of us now take for granted,” said Hitt in a statement. “I’m both humbled and honored to be a small part of celebrating their incredible contribution to the history of this great country, and look forward to the day the doors of the Lucy Burns Suffrage Museum open to the public.”

He said the historic Women’s March in Washington D.C. in January has sparked a renewed interest in the important national history that will be on display in the museum.

Hitt also recently contributed $100,000 to the non-profit Falls Church Educational Foundation and has made substantial contributions to the Creative Cauldron theater arts center in Falls Church and the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce.

The developer of the 301 W. Broad building, home to the new Harris Teeter and 200 apartments, Hitt’s headquarters is located in the Robertson Building at the corner of N. Washington and E. Broad Streets in Falls Church. He acquired that property and the Applebee’s property adjacent it, and has submitted plans to redevelop those parcels with a residential building that will include the donation of an enlarged Creative Cauldron venue.

The Lucy Burns Museum “would not be possible without the generosity of Workhouse supporters throughout our community, including Todd Hitt of Kiddar Capital and Rick Hausler, CEO of the Insight Property Group,” said Ava Spece, president of the Workhouse Arts Center.

It was when journalists learned of the brutal treatment of the 72 imprisoned women, the news spread like wildfire across the U.S., and an outraged public compelled President Wilson to back woman’s suffrage.

The last suffragette was released from the prison in 1919, and the 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920, even as not a single suffragist was invited to witness the amendment’s final passage.

Lucy Burns went on to become the co-founder of the National Woman’s Party.

The whole story will be told at the museum, and contributions continue to be accepted for its completion later this year at the Lucy Burns Memorial Fund, Workhouse Arts Center, 9518 Workhouse Way, Lorton, VA 22079.