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Bertha Eccles Community Art Center / Bertha Eccles Hall

One of the primary sources of wealth in 19th Century Utah was mining. Often this revenue was then invested in banking, commercial and agricultural ventures to multiply the wealth of already successful entrepreneurs. The case of James C. Armstrong is no exception.

The Bertha Eccles Community Art Center is located at 2580 Jefferson Avenue in Ogden, Utah and added to the National Historic Register (#71000865) on May 14, 1971.

With wealth from the mines, he invested in the Commercial National Bank of Ogden and became its president. He also served on the Bear River Water Board, as treasurer of the Union Publishing Company and as a Weber County commissioner in 1897 and 1898. Armstrong used part of his money to build a lovely home on Jefferson Avenue in 1893. The architect is unknown. Apparently the contractor was Joseph T. Johnson.

In 1896, Armstrong sold the home to David Eccles, another prominent businessman in northern Utah. His interests extended to lumber, land, railroads, banking and sugar industry. In time he became one of the state’s most significant financiers with his Influence extending far beyond the state’s boundaries.

David Eccles’ story is in the Horatio Alger’s tradition. Born in Scotland, he immigrated to Utah with his family, new converts to Mormon ism in 1863.

After locating in the Ogden area, David’s father, who was blind, made various articles on his wood lathe which his son peddled to people in the Ogden area. From this lowly beginning the young man rose to great financia prominence before his death in 1912.

His first wife, Bertha Jensen Eccles, was born in Denmark in 1857. At age ten, she also came to Utah with her family, walking much of the way. Living in Huntsville also, she grew up knowing the boy she later married. (1875) Their lovely home on Jefferson Avenue was many years removed from that beginning.

Because of her wealth and the opportunities it provided for travelling Bertha Eccles became a prominent influence in Ogden ‘s educational and social life. Not only did her home provide her family with the best in cultural opportunities, but it became a center for Ogden’s cultural festivities and social activities. Mrs. Eccles became one of the founders of the Girl Scout movement in Utah. She requested that her home remain in use as a center for these kinds of activities. After her death it was given to the L.D.S. Church. Then, in June, 1948, the home was presented to Weber Ste College by the Church, where it became a women’s dormitory and College Social Center. When the college moved to its new campus in about 1956, the home reverted to the L.D.S, Church again. About this time (1956-1959), the art council acquired the home for its use, as a gift from the church.

Since that time it has served as the Bertha Eccles Community Art Center. Various groups make direct use of it — the Junior League of Ogden, Ballet West’s Ogden Office, Ogden’s Symphony Guild, the Palette Club, and the Child Culture Club, In addition, art works are constantly on display. Classes in graphics, ceramics, painting, drawing, sculpture, drama, ballet, etc., are taught during nine months of the year. Last season over 35,000 people visited and used the center.

Thus this lovely Victorian home remains an example of early mining and commercial wealth spent on architecture which remains a cultural catalyst for the community. The qualities of Bertha Eccles still permeate the premises. With pride the community now honors her and seeks the preservation of this center.