The Chapel developed into a community center, used for religious instruction, singing schools, plays, and other meetings and gatherings of public issues. It is regarded as the “Free Speech Chapel” as it welcomed numerous groups throughout the 19th century who crusaded for various causes, including women’s dress reform, women’s suffrage, and temperance. The Women’s Temperance Society was founded here in 1875, and other groups that occupied the building included the Cold Water Army, Friends of Impartial Suffrage, and the Independent Order of Good Templars.
The Chapel is also regarded as the “Cradle of Equal Suffrage” as it was used by politically active women’s groups, including nine women who cast their ballots illegally in an 1871 local election and became the first women to vote in the state of Ohio. Though these ballots were lost en route to the Board of Elections, the group of women remained dedicated to the cause. It was also the meeting place of the Newbury Woman’s Political Club, founded January 4, 1874, the second such organization in Ohio and one of the earliest in the U.S. The Club planted an oak tree, known as the Centennial Oak, on July 4, 1876 across the street from the Chapel. It symbolically planted the roots for change and represents the growth of equality in the country. The Chapel hosted public lectures by prominent women suffragists, including Susan B. Anthony in 1879 and Harriet Taylor Upton in 1919.
On August 23, 1919, at the Newbury Memorial Association commemoration for the Newbury Woman's Suffrage Political Club, attendees marched from the Chapel to the historic Centennial Oak. Distinguished guests of this procession included Harriet Taylor Upton, Frances Jennings Casement, and Ruth Fisher Munn, who hung a commemorative wreath on the Centennial Oak.
The Union Chapel Trustees, Ohio History Connection (formerly Ohio Historical Society), and Geauga Park District sponsored the dedication of an Ohio Historical Marker on the property in 2010, and the Chapel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.