On a split vote Evanston aldermen Monday rejected a request from the preservation advocacy group Landmarks Illinois to tour the lakefront Harley Clarke mansion ahead of a Preservation Commission hearing later this month on the property’s future.

Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, pushed for the tour request, but Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, objected saying the group had been given access to the building two years ago, brought in a consultant that prepared a report and put estimates on the cost of repairs.

Judy Fiske.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said he would be OK with permitting “a small group of vetted individuals” to do a follow-up visit to update their prior report.

But Revelle’s motion failed on 5-4 vote with only aldermen Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward and Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, joining Revelle and Wilson in voting for it.

A separate request from Revelle to let members of the Preservation Commission tour the building was approved 9-0, although Fiske expressed reservations, saying the commission’s standards only address the exterior of a building and that under the city’s preservation ordinance the interior condition should not be a factor in making a demolition decision.

The City Council has voted to seek approval to demolish the building after years of failed efforts to find a financially viable and politically acceptable use for it.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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