The Evanston IL Harley Clarke Mansion is a controversial subject these days. The property is in Evanston on Sheridan Road in North East Evanston. It was the home of the Evanston Art Center, but they moved to a new home at 1717 Central.
Presently the property needs major repair. The City of Evanston and the residents are discussing what to do with this property. The Evanstonian has written about the residence in the past.
Since it is in the local news, we thought we would revisit the situation. First if the reader is new to this subject here is a little history. It is a beautiful but troubled property since the day it was built in 1927.
Harley Clarke had it constructed as his home but lost it to foreclosure in the late 1940s. He was an electric company owner who got hit by the 1929 depression. The home became the national headquarters for the Sigma Chi fraternity in 1950.
Evanston acquired the home which startles Light House Beach, a public facility where you find many people nearly every day of the week. It is beautiful.
The mansion was leased to the Evanston Art Center for $1 per year. They held classes there for many years. During all that time very, little upkeep was given to the property and the house needs about 2 to 3 million dollars in renovations just to keep is safe to use.
Last week I wrote a post about the Evanston IL Grosse Point Lighthouse and the Harley Clarke Mansion. We hear now that the City Of Evanston is considering tearing down the Harley Clarke Mansion. If you look at the building it is hard to tell without touring the inside that the building is in a deep state of disrepair.
For many years the building housed the Evanston Art Center and when an engineering report was done to find out what it would take to get the property back to city code the figure was in the millions. This property is beautiful and it was be a tragic if it were torn down.
Evanston Now a very popular news source for Evanston and people interested in the town has an article about this situation which I will quote:
“Evanston aldermen Monday will consider whether to move toward tearing down the city-owned lakefront Harley Clarke mansion.
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz plans to tell the Human Services Committee that efforts to reach an agreement with the state Department of Natural Resources to convert the building into offices for its Coastal Management Program have failed and that he sees little chance of finding another prospective tenant who would meet the council’s goals for having only “low impact” uses at the site.
With the building’s current tenant, the Evanston Art Center, scheduled to leave by mid-year for its own renovated building on Central Street, Bobkiewicz says it’s important that the city not allow the deteriorating building to stand empty.
So he is asking aldermen to authorize him to seek estimates for “deconstruction” of the building — dismantling it in a way that would preserve as much as possible of its parts for possible reuse.
The city has been seeking a new use — and a deep-pocketed new user — for the mansion since mid-2011, when officials concluded it needed more expensive maintenance and rehabilitation work than the city could afford.
Aldermen rejected the only firm proposal for a new use — Col. Jennifer Pritzker’s offer to expand the mansion and turn it into a 57-room boutique hotel — 18 months ago, after neighbors organized a campaign opposing the deal.