The La Grange Art League was founded in 1933 by professional and amateur artists from La Grange and Western Springs. Meetings were held in several places, among them, Lyons Township High School and the YMCA.
A building fund was established in 1942 with hopes of someday opening a gallery, meeting place, and studio.
In 1961, the LGAL incorporated as a non-profit organization. Our aim was to provide the means for the study and improvement of its members in their art endeavors and to promote art awareness and appreciation in the community.
In 1964, we opened an Art Center at 808 Arlington Avenue, La Grange, with a large classroom and small gallery that was run entirely by volunteers. However, the Art Center was closed in 1972.
In 1975, we rented space at 88 S. La Grange Road and had two paid framers in the gallery. We held our meetings in the Colonial Manor Nursing Home. The business in our framing department and gallery was very successful, but in 1983 an unaffordable rent increase forced us to close.
A new gallery was our goal and in the spring of 1984 with monies raised from generous donations, personal loans from members, and fund raising activities that supplemented our building fund, we purchased the property at 122 Calendar Court. A former retail establishment and restaurant, it was in a state of extreme neglect and disrepair. Professional services and countless hours volunteered by members brought about the transformation into a gallery and tenant’s space.
In November 1984, we opened the gallery and framing department to the public. Shortly afterwards we began an art appreciation program for the area grade school children.
Business was steady and growing, and encouraged us to begin our next project in the spring of 1986, the renovation of the second floor space for classes and workshops. Thanks to hired professionals and dedicated members, the work was completed, and we proudly held registration for our first classes, which began in July of 1987. Enrolled were 35 adults, 17 children and 18 artists who attended an all-day pastel workshop.
In 1992, extensive renovation was done to the façade of the building and courtyard, installing a new tenant storefront, brick pavers, awnings, signs, lighting and plantings. A 5-year interest-free loan from the Village of La Grange T.I.F. money made it all possible.
In August 1996, the gallery space was remodeled. Dozens of members enthusiastically volunteered to gut the inside, making way for the sub-contractors to add the finishing touches. We reopened our gallery during the Holiday Boutique in November 1996 with hundreds of members, customers and guests attending our Grand Opening.
In 2002, the gallery space was completely redecorated in time to hold our first national competition, COLOR 2002. In February 2009 our membership celebrated the past 75 exciting and successful years with a gala celebration. The gallery walls were hung floor to ceiling with our artwork. It was an exceptional show.
The League’s 80th Anniversary was celebrated in November 2013 during the annual Holiday Boutique with a champagne toast with members, friends and families.