The Eccles Art Center is located in a historic Victorian-era mansion, built in 1893. Originally built and owned by James C. Armstrong, the home was sold to the David and Bertha Eccles family in 1896. They raised 12 children in the home, and the family lived there for several decades. In 1959, the house was converted into a community arts and cultural center.
Born in poverty in Scotland, David Eccles came to Utah as a boy of 14. Here he rose to great wealth, leaving a mark on the economy of this region that continues today. Bertha Jensen Eccles was born in Denmark and also came to Utah as a child. Her legacy to the community is especially important in the history of her home. At her invitation, groups such as the Girl Scouts, Children's Aid Society, Drama Club, Child Culture, Martha Society, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers and Red Cross all held meetings in this house. In her later years, Bertha Eccles made it known to her family that she would like the building kept intact and used for the purpose of education and cultural development of the community.
Upon her passing, Bertha Eccles' wish for her home was granted, and her family gifted the house to Weber State University in 1948 (known as Weber State College then) to be used as a women’s dormitory. At that time, Weber State College was located just one block north of the Eccles home. The house became "Bertha Eccles Hall", where college students lived and socialized.
When Weber State moved its campus, the house and other buildings of the downtown campus reverted to the ownership of the LDS Church. The history of the house took another turn at this point, thanks to the efforts of a group called the Ogden Community Arts Council. Formed in 1953, the Council was made up of representatives from over 20 local civic and cultural organizations interested in providing a center for the arts in this community. Knowing that their goal was most compatible with the wishes of Bertha Eccles, the Ogden Arts Council approached the LDS Church, requesting the house for use as a community art center. In 1959 the deed to the Eccles home was given to the Council, and the building was renamed the Bertha Eccles Community Art Center. In 1976 the name of both the facility and the non-profit organization that supports it was changed to the Eccles Community Art Center.
The purpose of the Eccles Community Art Center is to promote the arts, in all forms, and to enhance the quality of life within the community.
The historic home displays temporary exhibits of local, regional and national artists. Exhibits change monthly, and the Art Center sponsors various competitions for local artists throughout the year.
The Carriage House Gallery was renovated and opened in May 1985. This sales gallery owes much of its character to its location in a 1913 red brick prairie-style Carriage House. In the early 1980’s, the carport area of this historic building was enclosed, replacing the garage doors with brick walls to convert the space into a gallery.
In 1999, the Renaissance complex was designed by Herman Sanders Architects to accommodate the offices of the Ogden Symphony Ballet Association as well as to house ongoing educational programs including dance and extension classes.
No tour is complete without a walk in the art center's lovely sculpture garden. The complex includes several beautiful sculptures and flower gardens, created by artists Terry C. Johnson, Tony Dickerson, Dan Hall, Lawrence Wheeler and Adrian Van Suchtelen. The gardens have been endowed by the Browning family in memory of Ann Browning for permanent care.
The growth of the Eccles Community Art Center as a vital community center is a result of the efforts of numerous individual contributions of time, talent and funds. Memberships are available to support the art center and its programs, from exhibits to classes to historic preservation.