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An email missive from the Evanston Lakehouse & Gardens organization claiming city officials plan to “fast track” demolition of the Harley Clarke mansion brought out several speakers for public comment at Monday night’s City Council meeting.


A copy of the email the Lakehouse group sent to supporters Monday.

None of the speakers offered any clear evidence to support the claim contained in the email, and Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, noted that nothing about the mansion was even on the Council’s agenda.

Under City Council procedures, such a proposal would likely require at least two Council votes at separate meetings — one to authorize the demolition and another to approve a contract to do the work.

Discussion of the fate of the mansion also is not included in the preliminary listing of Council agenda items for the next few months contained in the latest city manager’s weekly report.

The City Council last month rejected a proposal from the Lakehouse group to lease the mansion after aldermen concluded the group’s fundraising plan for the project was insufficient.

The vote left unresolved what the next steps for the mansion would be.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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7 Comments

  1. derrick blakley
    Why can’t we have both democracy and demolition? Or better yet, go back to Col. Pritzker hat in hand and beg her to take the white elephant off the city’s hands and put it on the tax rolls?

  2. Demo rumor
    Hopefully this is one rumor that may be true. The albatross house needs to come down. More beach and parkland ahead!

  3. Mansion Fate
    According to Neighbors, the consensus is there is only two reasonable choices.

    The top choice would be return the mansion to the tax roles. We figure it would bring between 500K and 1M per year. A tidy sum.

    The 2nd choice would be to demolish the beast. There would be a chance to make some money or offset the cost of demolition by selling bricks or other masion parts to those souls who would miss it.

    1. A no brainer

      There’s a third choice – – lease out the historic mansion on the lake. This mansion is a crown jewel on the lake. There’s a beach, a lighthouse and a park. Suggestions to tear it down is shortsighted and plain dumb.

      Why is it the City Council is willing is pluck down money to buy Boocoo on Church and Dodge, keep branch libraries open, buy and sell a shopping center and other properties, spend $2 million to buy land to get Trader Joes (which forced the closing of nearby Whole Foods), spend money rehabbing the Fountain Square, promising millions for a new Robert Crown Center and offer financial assistance to failed businesses like Chicken and Waffles but say nyet to a grassroots group trying to convert the historic mansion on the lake into a public events building with a year round cafe?

      Our city leaders really need to be bold and imaginative and figure out a way to help this grassroots group that wants to make sure ALL Evanstonians can use it for weddings, conferences and other public events YEAR ROUND!!!! This is a no brainer.

      1. Harley Clarke
        Just an outline to save Harley Clarke:
        1) Make it into a conference/catering/exclusive hotel
        2) Create 10 parking spaces in front of the mansion that are for mansion patrons only–year round. The 10 parking spaces would not cause trees to be cut down.
        3) The parking lot to the north of the mansion is for beach patrons during the weekend, after 5:00 PM Monday thru Friday Memorial Day to Labor Day. Outside of these times, the parking lot is fully accessible to mansion patrons. If the mansion wants to cater a wedding in July, they will need to arrange transportation (remote parking at NU?) to the mansion that does not infringe on beach goers using the beach.
        4) the east side of the mansion can be tented to within 15 feet of the tree line to accommodate catered events. No trees are to be sacrificed.
        5) the beach can never be closed to the public for mansion related events.

        A mix of catering, dining, high end accommodations for Evanston Hospital, Northwestern University VIP’s year round would be able to generate enough revenue for it to be preserved and generate meaningful property tax revenue and not require any scarce public dollars to save it.

      2. Easy to Say…..
        and more difficult to understand on wit paper. The words of the wise are choice when it comes to would have, could have, and should have. Of all that is said and done when it comes to the HCM, the endeavors that the city chose to fund to the communities that would benefit all, if only for a season, were peanuts compared to the $$$$$$$$ and $$$ to put up with that….. further money talks and blah de blah walks. If there was a firm commitment from those that could have put up the paper then all would have been well. Simple math….to sell or continue to fund a notion that parkland is or was public domain.

      3. On the topic of “No Brainers…”

        Wait.. why don’t we turn over Harley Clarke to a local arts group, who could maintain the facility and use it for public access to art and classes for ALL Evanstonians, and rent it out for weddings, events and more.  It would be an Art Center for all of Evanston! Can’t believe that a small grassroots group hasn’t thought of this before!

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