Our History

Grace E. Buchanan 

Grace Elizabeth Stephenson was born in Wyoming, Illinois in 1894. To better his family lot, Grace's father led them from Illinois to West Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, and then back again. She was a country girl at heart who developed a passion for the arts. 


Grace and her husband, Mathew J. Gross, settled into Highland Farm on the eastern edge of Monmouth in 1921. Building their treasured homestead and tending their precious black angus herd, Grace lived a life filled with beauty that came from both the country and her appreciation for the truly finer things in life. After the death of Matthew in 1943, Grace married Charles Buchanan in the autumn of 1947. 

Grace deeply believed that arts, music, dance, and theater should be open to all. She knew these aspects enhance our capacity to see and hear the beauty in our lives and to deepen the understanding of the human response to the world.


The legacy of Grace Buchanan is now the Buchanan Center for the Arts, a space where all of Warren County and surrounding areas can share in the arts. It is where young and old discover that a delicate brush stroke on a canvas, the sweet sounds of harmony, drama on stage, and a ballerina's graceful arabesque can give meaning to any place.

Grace requested that her estate establish and provide "opportunities for education in and enjoyment of the arts in Warren County." From that memorial trust rose the Buchanan Center for the Arts in 1989, chartered by the State of Illinois as a not-for-profit organization. Serving as a gallery space for artists, special event venue, and an  educational institution, it also has authority as a regranting agency for the Illinois Arts Council Agency. This designation allows the center to grant IACA funds, along with matching funds raised locally, to arts groups, organizations, schools, and individuals in Warren County.