Evanston’s Harley Clarke mansion is included on a list of a dozen “most endangered” historic places issued at a Springfield news conference today by the preservation group Landmarks Illinois.
The group said most of the imperiled buildings are municipally- or institutionally-owned and suggested the state budget crisis and slow economic recovery are creating challenges for preserving the structures.
At one point the Harley Clarke mansion had been proposed to become a home to the Coastal Management Program of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, until budget issues and a change of administrations in Springfield killed that plan.
Landmarks Illinois President Bonnie McDonald, in a statement announcing the list, said the sites included “are all exceptionally important to not only local residents, but the local economy.”
“By calling attention to the potential for reuse and revitalization of these historic places, we are encouraging job creation and economic development across Illinois — something everyone can support,” McDonald added.
However, in the case of the Harley Clarke property, a proposal to create jobs and economic development by expanding the building and turning it into a boutique hotel, was rejected by aldermen in the face of intense criticism from activists who opposed any commercial development along the lakefront.
For the moment, the city has opted to keep the mansion vacant but secured because of uncertainty about how any ultimate resolution of the state budget crisis will affect state aid to the city — and therefore the city’s ability to fund restoration or reuse of the property.
Half the properties identified by Landmarks Illinois are located in the Chicago metro area.