Founded in 1929, the Evanston Art Center has become one of the largest community art centers in Illinois. Created through the efforts of 20 civic organizations, from 1929 to 1943 the Art Center was housed in the basement of the old Evanston Library. In 1942, the Art Center was incorporated as a nonprofit. In 1966 the City of Evanston offered to lease to the Art Center for a nominal fee the Harley Clarke House, a three-story Tudor mansion on the shore of Lake Michigan, just north of Grosse Point Lighthouse on Sheridan Road. Over the years, the interior of the building has been redesigned to maximize space for studio art classes and the exhibition program. It is a classic example of successful adaptive reuse in a historic building that is being preserved through this partnership between the City of Evanston and the Evanston Art Center. The Center also rents classroom space at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center in Evanston.
Since its inception in 1929, the Evanston Art Center has been a major force in bringing together people, art and ideas. One of the oldest and largest visual art centers in Illinois, the Evanston Art Center is dedicated to making the visual arts an integral and accessible part of the lives of the diverse audiences in Evanston, Chicago, and the surrounding communities. The Art Center fulfills this mission through an extensive offering of visual arts classes, public lectures, changing exhibitions, youth outreach activities, and publications, all of which are designed to engage and enrich the individual and the community.