Rotating Exhibits:

Nationally Touring Exhibition, Spirited: Prohibition in America Opens September 1, 2019

During the era of Prohibition, Americans no longer could manufacture, sell, or transport intoxicating beverages from 1920 until 1933. Spirited: Prohibition in America, a new exhibition opening September 1st at the Evanston History Center (EHC), explores this tumultuous time in American history, when flappers and suffragists, bootleggers and temperance lobbyists took sides in the battle against the bottle. Evanston was an epicenter for alcohol reform, and visitors to Spirited can also experience the local story in Dry Evanston: The Untold Story, an exhibit at EHC that runs simultaneously. An opening reception featuring the Chris Mahieu Trio will be held on September 19th from 6:30-8 pm. Light refreshments and non-alcoholic drinks will be served. 

Organized by the National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, PA, in partnership with Mid-America Arts Alliance, Kansas City, MO, Spirited: Prohibition in America explores the era of Prohibition, when America went “dry.” Visitors will learn about the complex issues that led America to adopt Prohibition through the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in 1919. Visitors will also learn about the amendment process, the changing role of alcohol in American culture, Prohibition’s impact on the roaring ‘20s and the role of women, and how current liquor laws vary from state to state.

The Evanston History Center is proud to present this national exhibit in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the 18th Amendment and Evanston’s own historic role in the story. Spirited opens on September 1, 2019, and runs through October 20, 2019, and is available for viewing Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1:00 – 4:00. Admission is $10. Spirited: Prohibition in America is based on the exhibition American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, organized by the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA, in collaboration with Daniel Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of ProhibitionSpirited has been made possible through NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It has been adapted and toured by Mid-America Arts Alliance. Founded in 1972, Mid-America Arts Alliance is the oldest regional nonprofit arts organization in the United States. For more information, visit www.maaa.org or www.nehontheroad.org.

Resources for educators can be found here.

Events Around the Exhibit:

Spirited Exhibit Party
Thursday, September 19, 2019
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Evanston History Center, 225 Greenwood Street, Evanston, IL
Admission: Free

Join us to celebrate the exhibit, “Spirited.” This free event features live music by the Chris Mahieu Trio. Guests will enjoy a light reception of appetizers and non-alcoholic drinks, tour the exhibit “Spirited,” and also view “Dry Evanston: The Untold Story,” the companion exhibit that tells the local story of prohibition.

“Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out”
A Presentation by Josh Noel
Thursday, November 7, 2019
Reception at 6:30 p.m.
Lecture at 7:00 p.m.
Evanston History Center, 225 Greenwood Street, Evanston, IL
Admission: $10. (Payable at the door.) EHC Members Free.
Reservations recommended: Make a reservation online by clicking here or email Jenny Thompson at: jthompson@evanstonhistorycenter.org

Join us for a talk by Josh Noel, author of Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out: Goose Island, Anheuser Bush, and How Craft Beer Became Big Business. A reception kicks off the event at 6:30 p.m. Light appetizers, wine, and beer, courtesy of Evanston’s Sketchbook Brewing Co., will be served. A book signing follows the presentation. Copies of Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out will be on sale at the event.

Dry Evanston: The Untold Story

The battle over alcohol was formative in the early years of our nation. Dry Evanston: The Untold Story, a new exhibit at the Evanston History Center in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the 18th (Prohibition) Amendment, reveals how Evanston took on the fight, from its founding in the 1850s through the 20th century.

Dry Evanston: The Untold Story Exhibit

Starting in the early 19th century, many Americans felt that alcohol consumption was so harmful that it needed to be addressed, even prohibited. Others felt that this was unnecessary, governmental policing of behavior that was essentially harmless. Still others, brewers, distillers and distributors, could see the money to be made. Evanston was the epicenter for the temperance and prohibition movements, modeling and influencing national trends and opinions in dramatic and surprising ways.

Featuring original photographs, artifacts, archival materials and costumes that tell the story, Dry Evanston: the Untold Story will open on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. Visitors to the history center can see the exhibit during regular tour hours – Thursday-Sunday from 1- 4 p.m. Admission is $10 per person. The exhibit will continue its run through January 2020.

Special joint tours of the Frances Willard House, home to the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, will be offered in conjunction with Dry Evanston. Purchase admission to either the Willard House or the Dawes House to receive your coupon for half-off tours at the other museum. Tours of the Willard House are available on Thursdays and Sundays from 1-4 p.m. from June-October of 2019.

In addition to the local story, the national story will be highlighted in the traveling exhibit Spirited: Prohibition in America which will visit the Evanston History Center for six weeks in the fall of 2019.

Permanent Exhibits:

Milestones and Memories


Fountain Square, 1932

EHCs permanent exhibit of Evanston history features an overview of the community’s history from its beginnings to today. This wonderful interactive exhibit uses artifacts and archival materials from EHCs collection to tell the story of the community and some of the amazing people who called Evanston home.

Visit the second floor of the Dawes House to see this exhibit during our open hours, Thursday-Sunday from 1-4 p.m.