(Source: The Signpost Archives)
The Eccles Community Art Center in Ogden is the former residence of David Eccles, a prominent business man. (Source: The Signpost Archives)

The Eccles Community Art Center in Ogden is the former residence of David Eccles, a prominent business man responsible for many buildings, including the Berthana, as well as heavily contributing to the growth and expansion of Ogden during the early 1900s.

The community center was built in 1893 by James Clarence Armstrong and then purchased by David Eccles in 1896. Eccles lived there with his wife, Bertha, and their 12 children. Later, it was turned into a girls dormitory for Weber State students. After Weber State relocated to its current location, the house was left empty until it was turned into the Eccles Community Art Center.

David Eccles had two wives, one here in Ogden and another in Logan. “The house does have a room where if someone were to come and arrest him for polygamy, he could hide in it,” said Debra Muller, assistant director of the art center.

There is also a secret panel in the kitchen. “The panel is a spring loaded panel with shelves inside to hide jewelry during social events,” said Muller.

There’s a narrow staircase from the kitchen to the second floor that children often used. “Children were meant to be seen and not heard, and during social events completely out of sight,” said Muller. To accomplish this, the children would use the staircase to go get their meals and then promptly return to their rooms.

Many believe the house to be haunted, but the employees have never had any incidents. If there are noises in the house, it’s chalked up to the house being old and the cat that runs around the house. There are some rumors about Miss Hardy, the caretaker of the Eccles’ household, haunting the place.

“Miss Hardy would regularly be found sleeping on the kitchen island with her arms folded looking like a mummy. Supposedly today, she haunts the building, and if you put a full glass on the piano, she will move it off the piano,” according to MandiAnne Orton Poll, an employee at the Eccles Community Art Center.

Today, the house serves as a historical site and a community art center. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, protecting it from any attempt to remodel or destroy the building. “We had to get permission to update the windows,” said Muller.

The community center has the main house as well as the old garage with the groundkeeper’s apartment above it. In addition, two new buildings were recently built and are used as a dance studio and for the Ogden Symphony and Ballet office.

“Sometimes, we use this building for Miss Weber County to practice. I’m using it for a portfolio review for high school kids. We use this building for more than just dancing,” said Leslie Trimble, employee with the center and Weber State alumnus majoring in art.

Weber State University students should visit historic sites like the Eccles Center to see how culturally rich Ogden is.

“If you’re going to Weber, you should have some Ogden pride; Jefferson has a lot to see. A lot of people like the stories about the brothels and bars, but the owners lived up here. We’re so close to the bars, go grab a drink and a donut and then walk up the street to visit,” said Trimble.

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