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Harley Clarke Mansion Could be Demolished Says Evanston

Harley Clarke Mansion Could be Demolished Says Evanston

There are a growing number of Evanston IL residents who want to give up on the Harley Clarke Mansion. The city council may let residents pay to tear down this local landmark. The goal is to restore the lakefront dunes to their natural state.

A growing group of Evanston Residents feel that the mansion is in need of too much repair to make it work the effort. It has been considered that to get the view of the natural dunes back is a better way to go. There is still a large group who oppose this idea.Harley Clarke Mansion Could be Demolished Says Evanston

The city of Evanston says: group of Evanston residents has offered to pay for the demolition of the Harley Clarke mansion, aldermen were told Tuesday. During public comment, two speakers informed the City Council they have secured enough cash to pay for the removal of the local landmark and the restoration of the lakefront site, saving the city money and putting an end to years of debate over the future of the structure.

Following their remarks, an alderman directed city staff to prepare a resolution ahead of the next council meeting to move forward with the plan. Nicole Kustok and Jeff Coney spoke in favor of a plan introduced last fall by the Evanston Lighthouse Dunes group. The 1927 French eclectic-style mansion would be torn down, while its Jens Jensen-designed gardens would be preserved.

Harley Clarke Mansion Could be Demolished Says Evanston

The Harley Clarke Mansion is the former home of the Evanston Art Center. They moved out a couple of years ago and the mansion has since been vacant. Since that time no agreeable replacement has been accepted by residents. At one time a bed and breakfast was proposed and rejected.

What are your feelings about tearing down the mansion? Many people are torn, and no decision has been agreed to yet. Attend the Evanston City council meetings and speak your mind and help Evanston.

The Evanston IL Harley Clarke Mansion

The Evanston IL Harley Clarke Mansion

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.The Evanston IL Harley Clarke Mansion

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.

The Evanston IL Harley Clarke Mansion

Presently it is vacant and there has been much talk of what to do with it. The latest talk is to tear it down. For a more complete history of what has happened in the past, read the Round Table article entitled An Unfinished History of Evanston’s Harley Clarke Mansion.

The latest talk of tearing down the mansion and creating open land is an interesting idea. I saw a rendering and it got people thinking and talking. Evanston faces a dilemma.

Evanston IL Talks Of Tearing Down the Harley Clarke Mansion

Evanston IL Talks Of Tearing Down the Harley Clarke Mansion

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.

Evanston IL Talks Of Tearing Down the Harley Clarke Mansion

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.

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