The Evans House, located on Main Street across from First Community National Bank, was purchased last year by the Steelville Arts Council to be utilized as a downtown center for the arts.
The home dates back to at least Civil War days, but perhaps even earlier. According to records gathered by Paul Perkins’ family, his great-grandfather, William C. Evans probably moved into the home in Steelville around 1874. Evans, who had served in the Union Army during the Civil War, was elected to the office of Crawford County Circuit Clerk and Recorder of Deeds in that year. He served 28 years in that position and four years as County Clerk for a total of 32 years in public service.
William C. Evans’ daughter Eula (born in the house in 1888) was Paul’s grandmother and he recalled stories she told of her time in the home, especially one about the terrible flood in 1898. Paul remembered her talking about her father going down the stairs in the house to mark a spot on the stair where the water had risen inside. That nick can still be
seen on the third stair from the bottom, consistent with the reports of water levels reaching five to eight feet deep on Main Street.
The original house did not have the two side porches that currently flank the structure, but was built in a T-shape. Much of the original construction remains, including wavy glass windows, about half of the wood flooring and some of the wood ceilings, too. Although there were several remodels done on the building over the years, the current renovation project undertaken by the Steelville Arts Council has taken it back to the look it probably held during Paul’s great-grandfather’s time.
Inside, beautiful pine floors have been refinished, walls, ceiling and trim have been given fresh coats of paint and period details have been restored. Outside, fresh paint has brightened the exterior of the home, too. Plans include the installation of a bathroom and a few furnishings, although the front two rooms will be left open for gallery space.
“The whole idea is not to memorialize my family,” Paul noted, “but to get people involved in saving these historical places. The objective is to help put our town on the map so that people will come to see our history.”
Scott Perkins, Paul’s son and president of the Steelville Arts Council, noted that the home will be available for art gallery space, as a rental over-flow space for Wildwood concert-goers, to the public for family gatherings, baby and wedding showers and business socials.
It will also be offered for specific art events. “We want to touch every art form out there,” Scott said. “We want to include not only the visual arts, but speech and drama and dance, too.”
Volunteers and donors to the arts council would be appreciated. The organization is a nonprofit, 501c3 organization with a mission of promoting artistic endeavors and fostering the arts community in and around Steelville.