Harley Clarke Mansion

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Request for Proposals 

The City of Evanston requested proposals to enter into a long-term lease with a non-profit organization that will invest in and renovate the Harley Clarke Mansion to create a high quality public use for the space consistent with the 2008 Lakefront Master Plan. The City received one response from Evanston Lakehouse & Gardens. City Council approved the response on November 13, 2017.  City Council directed City Staff to move forward with lease negotiations. The proposed lease (Ordinance 42-O-18) was approved for Introduction at the March 12, 2018 City Council, but failed 7-2 for Action on April 9, 2018. 

On June 18, 2018, City Council considered Resolution 43-R-18, authorizing the City Manager to meet with the Evanston Lighthouse Dunes organization to negotiate on the costs associated with the restoration of the dunes and gardens and demolition of the Harley Clarke Mansion and Coach House. The Resolution was approved 6-3.

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. The City of Evanston is now reviewing responses to a Request for Proposal to lease the property to a not-for-profit organization.

Legislative History

Documents and Reports


 Year  Description
1965  City of Evanston purchases property from Sigma Chi Fraternity
1965-2015  City leases property to Evanston Arts Center
July 2011  City Council directed City Staff to identify other possible uses
May 2012  Staff distributed a Request for Interest 
 July 2013  Council rejects the one RFP received to turn property into hotel
End of 2013 through 2015  Illinois Department of Natural Resources tried to negotiate about purchase of  property
January 2015  Citizens Committee was formed to study uses for the mansion
June 2015  Committee presented report to City Council
October 2015  City Council requested to discontinue proposal discussions 
September 2016  City Council approves proposal for City to keep property and allocate $250,000 for  improvements 
November 2016  Harley Clarke Planning Committee was formed to discuss next steps
June 2017 Request from committee to lease to Evanston Lakehouse and Gardens (denied);  request was amended to send out a Request for Proposal for other not-for-profit  organizations that may be interested in leasing 
 August 2017  RFPs Issued Seeking Qualified Non-Profit Entity to Lease the Harley Clarke Mansion
 November 2017  Evanston Lakehouse & Gardens response to the RFP was approved by Council
 March 2018  Ordinance 42-O-18 authorizing Evanston Lakehouse & Gardens lease was approved for Introduction by Council
 April 2018  Ordinance 42-O-18 failed 7-2 for Action 
 June 2018  Resolution 43-R-18 approved 6-3 for Action

Harley Clarke Planning Committee - Inactive

The Harley Clarke Planning Committee was formed in November of 2016 and discussed the planning for the future of the Harley Clarke Mansion. The Committee recommended a lease of the property to Evanston Lakehouse and Gardens at the City Council meeting of June 26, 2017. This recommendation was not approved. The committee is not currently active.
Committee page, Agendas and Minutes

Harley Clarke Citizens' Committee - Inactive

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 to not consider any option in which the beach or access to the beach does not remain publicly owned.  The committee is not currently active.

The Committee solicited public input in four ways – (1) through a City established email, (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 discussed the issue in September. The Harley Clarke Committee's report to City Council can be viewed below.