Echoes of Evanston

by Northlight Theatre

Northlight Theatre announces a partnership with Evanston Rules and Shorefront Legacy Center to present “Echoes of Evanston: The Soul of Community Hospital,” a multi-part creative collaboration that explores the significant yet often overlooked history of the Evanston Sanitarium, later known as Community Hospital, which served the Black community on Chicago’s North Shore from 1914 to 1980. The culmination of the project is now available as a podcast at

Through “Echoes of Evanston: The Soul of Community Hospital,” Northlight, Evanston Rules, and Shorefront Legacy Center tell the untold stories of the pioneering Black physicians, healthcare teams, and patients who faced the challenges of healthcare during periods of racial segregation. In-depth interviews were conducted with members of the community who experienced Community Hospital first-hand. Northlight Theatre Artistic Fellow Tor Campbell transformed material from these interviews into an evening of dramatic readings, held at Northlight Theatre for an invited audience on Monday, June 24. Evanston Rules’s Laurice Bell and Ron Whitmore, who conducted the interviews, edited the community interviews into a podcast series, available at

“Northlight is incredibly proud of the partnerships we’ve developed, which allow us to build relationships and enhance our community with compelling experiences that extend beyond the stage,” says Northlight Executive Director Timothy J. Evans. “Working with Evanston Rules and Shorefront on this project about Community Hospital, we’ve had the privilege of getting to know our Evanston community in a deep and meaningful way, while highlighting the enduring impact of these powerful stories on current social struggles.”

Individual interviewees and story contributors include: Colette Allen, Bernie Bates, Rhonda Craven, George Dotson, Dudley Fair, Eleanor “Brownie” Frazier, Deb Galloway, Lynne Greene, Bennett Johnson, Donna Johnson, Spencer Jourdain, Teel Miller, Willie Miller, Carlis Sutton, Connie Taylor, Rommie Taylor, and Donna Penn Towns.

This “Echoes of Evanston” project is supported by Healing Illinois, a racial healing initiative of the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Field Foundation of Illinois. Organizations such as Northlight Theatre, Evanston Rules, and the Shorefront Legacy Center have been resourced to engage in racial healing activities to help build bridges between and among the diverse communities in Illinois.

In its ongoing efforts to engage with the community, Northlight first collaborated earlier this year with the Shorefront Legacy Center on the Evanston Reparations Legacy Project, which trained high school journalists to document the stories of Evanston’s reparations grant recipients. Teaching Artists cultivated intergenerational connection through team building and improvisation games, honing storytelling skills and encouraging students to use their voices.

About the Partners

Evanston Rules is a dynamic podcast that delves into the rich history and vibrant stories of Evanston, Illinois. Co-founded and co-produced by Laurice Bell and Ron Whitmore in 2020, the podcast explores the lives and experiences of individuals who have made a significant impact on the Evanston community. Evanston Rules sheds light on the unique challenges and triumphs faced by Evanstonians, particularly focusing on issues of racial equity, social justice, and community development. Our Evanston stories echo beyond city limits. Evanston Rules helps listeners realize that these stories are universal, reflecting experiences and challenges faced by people everywhere. Every story starts local, and sharing these often-overlooked narratives is a crucial step toward healing and understanding. The podcast inspires community engagement, advocacy, and story appreciation. Evanston Rules offers an engaging and informative journey for all.

Located in Evanston, Illinois, Shorefront Legacy Center is an archival institution dedicated to illuminating the rich tapestry of Black history on Chicago’s suburban North Shore. Founded on the three core principles — Collect, Preserve, and Educate — we aim to create a dynamic space for reflection and growth. An archive for the people, by the people; we safeguard narratives that have too frequently been consigned to obscurity. Through our efforts to unearth the stories of previously unrecognized community members, we breathe life into their legacies, ensuring they endure for generations yet to come. Our initiatives include educational programs, public exhibits, and community outreach efforts designed to engage and inform the public about the significant impact of Black residents in shaping the region’s history. It is through our dedicated efforts that we aim to ensure that the stories and contributions of Black residents on the North Shore are preserved and honored for generations to come.

Northlight Theatre is a professional, non-profit theatre company currently located in Skokie, Illinois at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. Northlight produces five mainstage productions each year, delivering a mix of enjoyable, intelligent, and inspiring work with powerful, fresh perspectives. It is one of the largest and longest-running nonprofit theatres in the Chicago area. Northlight Theatre aspires to promote change of perspective and encourage compassion by exploring the depth of our humanity across a bold spectrum of theatrical experiences. We seek to entertain, enlighten, and electrify our audiences through contemporary dramas, intimate musicals and refreshed classics. Northlight Theatre reflects our community to the world and the world to our community