Nonprofit Urges Public Use of Harley Clarke Property

A new Evanston civic group formed over the summer has stepped forward with a vision and path forward for the 90-year-old landmark mansion and grounds at 2603 Sheridan Rd., just north of the Grosse Point Light Station, and generally referred to as the Harley Clarke mansion after the original owner. Evanston Lakehouse & Gardens has incorporated as an Illinois not-for-profit (with the formal name of Evanston Lake House and Gardens Inc.) and applied to the IRS for 501(c)(3), or charitable, tax exemption, to raise funds for restoring the historic house and grounds, which originally featured gardens planned by pioneering designer Jens Jensen, and turning the property into a self-sustaining, publicly-accessible space for community groups, programs, and events.

The mansion has been closed since the Evanston Art Center moved to its bright new space on Central Street. The Lakehouse group is seeking a low-cost lease from the City of Evanston in order to begin rehabbing and open the house and grounds. The City Council considered the matter on September 21 but held the issue, on a motion from Ald. Miller, until the first meeting in October.

Evanston Lakehouse & Gardens encourages the public to explore its concept at its website. CSNA has not yet taken a formal position on the group's proposal but this past April adopted a set of principles with respect to the property, and numerous CSNA members are providing input to the Lakehouse group, and CSNA seeks members' opinions on the Lakehouse concept, which may be consistent with those principles.