Greater Norristown Art League, Inc. is a non-profit organization with a 501 (c)(3) status engaged in the promotion and teaching of the Arts. Founded in 1941 and chartered in 1957, it is located in the Old Norriton Schoolhouse and is one of East Norriton Township’s historical resources.
GNAL offers day, evening and weekend classes for adults and children, in addition to, one day studios in all media, exhibition opportunities, and summer camp for children. We hold a September open house for the public and variety of Second Sunday events open to the public.
THE HISTORY OF THE ART LEAGUE
In 1941 a group of about 125 people, who hoped to further education and appreciation of the arts, sponsored a one-man show for Marvin Detwiler at the YMCA. It was received so well that the Norristown Art Committee (later to become the Norristown Art League) was formed. The group met in many different locations including the Norristown YMCA, Army Reserve Center, A.D. Eisenhower School, the Bridgeport Fire Station, and occasionally members’ homes. The group became a chartered non-profit organization by 1957 and officially became a 501(c)3 sometime in the late 1990s.
OUR HISTORIC SCHOOL HOUSE
The place where people come to learn and inspire one another. The Greater Norristown Art League’s (GNAL) home is a small, one-room schoolhouse that was built in 1894. The current building is a replacement for the original school which was built in 1771 by Norristown’s first physician, Dr. Shannon. It is the oldest school in E. Norriton Township. Dr. Shannon’s family hosted George Washington on his march from Valley Forge to New Jersey in 1778.
After the township was divided into East and West Norriton in the early 1900s, the building was no longer needed as a schoolhouse and subsequently sold for $875. It was sold again and used as a Community Center. Fun fact: Charley McCracken and Joanne Jackson, both GNAL members, once attended square dances here.
In the beginning, there were no cash prizes for juried art shows sponsored by the Art League. Winners received silver trays, silver goblets, sterling pitchers, and other similar items.
Shows were held at the YMCA and later at Norristown High School. In 1948, dues were $1.00.
There were 93 members in 1951.
Free biweekly painting classes were offered early on in the formation of the League.
Children’s classes were added in 1949.
For many years, the league held an annual Beaux Arts Ball that was attended by the community.