Preserving History Promoting Art

In 1909 eighty women met in Williston to organize the Women's Civic League. Their goal was to obtain a library for the city of Williston. These determined women petitioned Arthur Curtiss James for necessary funds to build the library. Mr James agreed to fund the project as a memorial to his father, D. Willis James. February 27, 1911 the library was opened with a banquet and grand ball. The building was used as the city's only library until 1983, when it was replaced by the new public library. In the early 1990's the city began to address the issue of probable building destruction. In 1993 a concerned group of citizens formed the James Memorial Preservation Society to save the historic building and develop it into a center for the visual arts. The James Memorial Preservation Society in leasing the building from the city, assumed full financial responsibility for the maintenance and repair of the building and for exhibitions and activities held in it. 


Our Mission

To share art and culture with the community of Williston, North Dakota while preserving the historic building known as The James Memorial Art Center. 

“Early in 1910 a group of about 80 women, united in strong determination to obtain a library, had organized the Women’s Civic League with this idea as their main objective”
— Emma C. Burdick Williston Women's Civic League

What We've Achieved

  • James Memorial Preservation Society formed in 1992 to save building from destruction
  • Preservation of the building began in April 1993
  • Local art exhibits start April 1993
  • Membership drive starts 1993
  • North Dakota Art Gallery Association touring exhibits begin showing 1996
  • Art Education Program expanded to include student-adult art classes
  • Continued restoration of historic building