You may not realise it but among the corner stores and coffee shops of America's main streets are buildings and public spaces that contain the histories of trailblazing women who helped shape the country. Though if you don't know where to look, you might just miss them...

Exterior shot of the Downtown Women's Center, Los Angeles
Downtown Women's Center, Los Angeles ©Saving Places

That's because some of these spaces are pretty nondescript or have shuttered or need a little TLC, such as a lick of paint here and fresh signage there. Thankfully, a preservation grant competition has been launched to help them. Ahead of next year's centennial of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has partnered with American Express and Main Street America to "shine a light on historic buildings and sites celebrating the contributions of women in local communities across the country."

Exterior shot of a derelict theatre on a main street
Strand Theatre in Wyoming hopes to become a vibrant performing arts center ©Saving Places

Twenty sites are vying for your vote to win the grant. Contenders include the Denver home of Justina Ford, Colorado's first African-American female doctor; author Harper Lee's hometown courthouse in Monroeville, Alabama; the Downtown Women's Center in Los Angeles; a community space for helping homeless women and Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low's birthplace in Savannah, Georgia

Justina Ford House
The home of Justina Ford in Denver ©Saving Places

"You cannot tell the full story of America without including the many incredible contributions women have made to our country’s history," said Katherine Malone-France, chief preservation officer at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "By highlighting historic places on main streets across America that are telling the stories of women, we hope to not only preserve these sites, but also amplify the women who have made our main streets what they are today."

Monroe County Courthouse Museum in the sunshine
Harper Lee's Monroe County Courthouse Museum ©Saving Places

You can check out the full list of the projects here before casting your vote. All are worthy and every project automatically gets $10,000 to raise awareness and make its case. But only one will win the $2 million grant. The public can cast up to five votes per day until 29 October. The winner will be announced shortly after.

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