Collins Music Hall, near the historic center of Geneva, served as one of three principal venues for a woman's suffrage convention held on Wednesday through Saturday, November 3–6, 1897. (Nineteenth-century practice was to use the singular, woman's, when referring to women as a class; later practice was to use the plural, women's.) The twenty-ninth annual convention of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association (NYSWSA) was organized by Elizabeth Smith Miller and her daughter, Anne Fitzhugh Miller; Susan B. Anthony was one of the principal speakers. Isabel Howland, of the prominent abolitionist Howland family of Sherwood, served as Treasurer of the Convention.
Sessions open to the public were held at Collins Hall and the Smith Opera House, use of which was donated to the conference by its owner, the pro-suffrage Geneva entrepreneur and philanthropist William Smith. Business meetings were held in downtown Geneva at the Hotel Nester.
Collins Hall was the site of the convention's opening session on the evening of Wednesday, November 3.
The Building and the Site. The Richardsonian Romanesque structure was completed in 1893, built by Captain and Mrs. Louis Dell Collins. (Mrs. Collins had the Belhurst Castle, a landmark just south of Geneva, constructed in the same style some seven years earlier; that property is now a resort.) The Music Hall operated until 1908, when the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks purchased it. Lodge #1054 operated for many years. Most recently, the property has been restored and made into private apartments.
When Collins Hall first opened, its street address was 460 South Main. But the city of Geneva standardized its street numbering scheme shortly thereafter, causing the east side of South Main Street to receive odd street numbers, so the address was changed to 459 South Main.
Just south of the property is a terraced, grassy hill; this is the former site of East Washington Street, which was razed during the urban renewal of central Geneva circa 1966. The rear of the property now overlooks Geneva’s successfully redeveloped lakefront.