Grace Elizabeth Stephenson was born in Wyoming, Illinois in 1884. Just a "hoot'n-a-holler" from such places as Toulon, Lafayette, and Oneida. "Although I was a youngster I might have done the town on horseback," she remembered, "I was more frequently seen in a fuzzy red and white coat with a white tam-o'-shanter hat, sitting on the seat of our big lumber wagon."
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, tending their precious black angus herd. She 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 remarried to Charles Buchanan in the autumn of 1947.
Grace deeply believed that arts, music, dance, and theater should be open to all. She knew that these aspects enhance our capacity to see and hear the beauty in our lives and they help 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 help to 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, it also has authority as a regranting agency for the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency. This designation allows the center to grant IACA funds, along with matching funds raised locally, to art groups, organizations, schools, and individuals in Warren County.