Harriet Sanborn Noyes came to Evanston with her husband Henry in 1855. They were among the earliest settlers of the village of Evanston as Henry was the first professor hired by Northwestern University. He taught mathematics and Greek and later served as interim president of the University. Their home was a center of university life in these early years with Harriet serving as mother, spiritual guide and informal teacher of the students.
After her husband’s death in 1872, Harriet Noyes remained involved in Evanston life. She served on the board of the Evanston College for Ladies and was active in many other early Evanston institutions.