Harley Clarke Mansion

Harley Clarke Mansion

The Harley Clarke Mansion is located at 2603 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois.

History of Harley Clarke Mansion

Located adjacent to the Grosse Pointe Lighthouse and Lighthouse Beach in the northeast corner of Evanston, the Harley Clarke Mansion is a historic English Tudor mansion. The City of Evanston purchased the property from the Sigma Chi National Fraternity in 1965 as part of the development of the Lighthouse Landing Park. The mansion was originally a private residence, but had served as the fraternity’s national headquarters from 1951-1965.  The City of Evanston leased the building to the Evanston Arts Center from the late 1960s until 2015, when the property began to require more maintenance than either the City or the Art center was able to fund. The Evanston Arts Center moved to a new location on Central Street and the property was closed.

Timeline of Legislative History

Beginning in July of 2011, the City Council directed city staff to begin a process to identify other uses for the property. On May 15, 2012, after Council approval, City staff distributed a Request for Interest to seek statements of interests from parties interested in either purchasing or leasing the Harley Clarke Mansion and coach house. The City received four Statements of Interests.  After approval from Council in the fall of 2012, staff distributed a Request for Proposal to the four respondents.  The RFP yielded only one proposal to purchase and renovate the property for use as a hotel. In response to concerns raised by neighbors about traffic and preservation of public beach access, the City Council voted to reject this proposal on July 22, 2013.

Near the end of 2013, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) approached the City about acquiring the mansion in order to relocate the offices of the state’s coastal management program and establish an education center open to the public. These negotiations continued through 2014 and ended in January of 2015 when the City and State were unable to come to agreement on the sale versus lease of the property and uncertainty in the future direction of IDNR with changes in administration.  

A Citizens Committee was appointed on January 26, 2015 to study the use for the mansion. Pursuant to Council request, the Committee prepared and presented a report on June 8, 2015. On October 26, 2015, staff requested City Council continue the discussion on proposals for the future of the mansion and provide direction. Council directed discussions on the property be postponed until after the State of Illinois reaches an agreement on the state budget.  

Pursuant to Council approval, the property was opened to the public for a one-day tour on August 3, 2016. On September 12, 2016, Council approved a proposal for the City to own and operate the facility, and to allocate $250,000 for immediate improvements. The property will be used for City-sponsored summer recreation activities in 2017.  The Parks and Recration Board, Lighthouse Landing Complex Committe and City staff will develop a plan for future operation of the property beginning 2018.  Upon City Council approval, the property would be regularly open to the public beginning 2018.

Committee Date (of meeting or release of information) Relevant packet materials Minutes Other
City Council 9/12/2016 Meeting Packet Documents   Approved Proposal
City Council 10/26/15 Meeting Packet Documents    
City Council 9/21/15 Meeting Packet Documents     
Citizens Committe 2/12/15 2/12/15 Meeting Agenda    
City Council 1/26/15 Agenda- special committee appointments  
City Council 1/12/15 Meeting Packet   video
Human Services 1/5/15 Meeting packet   Status Letter from IDNR
City Council 9/22/14 Meeting packet   Video
City Council 7/23/13   Minutes Video
City Council 2/25/13   Minutes  
City Council 8/13/12 Meeting packet Minutes Video
City Council 5/14/12 Meeting packet Minutes Video
City Council 7/11/11 Meeting packet Minutes Video

For additional information about the Mansion, please contact the City Manager’s Office at citymanagersoffice@cityofevanston.org or 847-448-4311.

Harley Clarke Mansion Photos

Harley Clarke Carriage House Photos

Harley Clarke Citizens' Committee

The mission of the Harley Clarke Citizens’ Committee was to identify, develop, and evaluate the viability of options in the context of the criteria developed by the Committee. The Committee unanimously agreed not to consider any option in which the beach or access to the beach does not remain publicly owned.

Additionally, the Committee solicited public input in four ways – (1) through a City established email harleyclarkemansion@cityofevanston.org, (2) 30 minutes of public comment at the beginning the second meeting, held on February 26, 2015, (3) a public comment period at the end of all subsequent meetings in which options are evaluated, and (4) through a public workshop held on Monday, May 18, 2015. The Committee made its final report to City Council on June 8, 2015; City Council will take up the issue in September. The Harley Clarke Committee's report to City Council can be viewed below.

Harley Clarke Committee Report To City Council June 8

Harley Clarke Planning Committee

The Harley Clarke Planning Committee was formed in November of 2016, and will discuss the planning for the future of the Harley Clarke Mansion.

Committee page, Agendas, and Minutes can be found here.

Additional Documents

Condition Assessment

Cost Estimates

IDNR Documentation

RFP & Tawani Proposal

Historical Info

Planning & Zoning


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