Evanston’s Preservation Committion tonight holds a special meeting to consider the city’s proposal to demolish the lakefront Harley Clarke mansion.

The session, at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at the Civic Center, is expected to be a crowded one.

The commission has issued special guidance to meeting participants, saying public comments will be limited to two minutes per speaker, speakers will have to sign up to speak before the start of the meeting, no visuial presentations will be allowed and speakers won’t be allowed to trade time with other speakers.

The memo also notes that the commission only considers the historic preservation issues set forth in the city’s preservation ordinance, and that any other issues about the mansion are outside the scope of the commission’s review.

The city in its application for a certificate of appropriateness for tearing down the building says the mansion and coach house “are not a prime example of one partricular architectural style or design and that the design “can be reproduced, which is a standard that permits demolition” under the city code.

It also argues that the buildings present a danger to persons visiting the property, because of multiple property code violation that would require “great difficulty and expense” to repair.

Opponents of demolition argue that the building has “an impressive profile and outstanding location” and argue that as the last of the large mansions built in Evanston before the 1929 stock market crash it deserves to be preserved.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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