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Harley Clarke Mansion

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 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.  In 2013, the City rejected one Request for Proposal to turn the property into a hotel. The City then reviewed responses to a Request for Proposal to lease the property to a not-for-profit organization. After the proposal from Evanston Lakehouse & Gardens was denied by City Council in 2017, the Evanston Lighthouse Dunes group submitted a request to donate funds to demolish the Harley Clarke Mansion and Coach House and restore the dunes. The Preservation Commission denied this proposal. A new Request for Proposal to lease the property to non-profit and for profit entities was approved on April 15 with minor edits. The Request will be issued May 16, 2019 and commence February 28, 2020. Up to date details on the RFP can be found at

The tentative schedule for this RFP and project process is as follows:

  1. RFP issued……………………………………May 16, 2019
  2. Viewing of property……………………………June 3, 4, 5; July 1, 2; Aug. 1, 2; Sept. 3, 4, 5; and Oct. 1, 2, 3
  3. Non-Mandatory Pre-Proposal Meeting...........July 24, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.
  4. Community Meetings…………………………August 6 and November 5, 2019
  5. Last Day to submit questions…………………February 12, 2020
  6. Final Addendum ………………………………February 19, 2020
  7. RFP Submission Due Date……………………February 28, 2020
  8. City Council Consideration of Proposals……TBD
  9. City Council Award of Lease………………….TBD

Proposal Requests 

Artist Book House Proposal

Evanston Community Lakehouse & Gardens Proposal 

Evanston Conservancy Proposal  

ONECommunity Museum Website 

Inquiries can be directed to Purchasing Specialist, Jillian Ostman (

Legislative History


 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
 July 2018  Resolution 51-R-18 approved 5-3 for Action
 August 2018  Memorandum of Understanding with Evanston Lighthouse Dunes
October 2018  Preservation Commission votes 9-0 to deny Certificate of Appropriateness
 November 2018  Preservation Commission Findings. Attachments can be found in the October 23 Preservation Commission meeting agenda.
 November 2018 Notice of Appeal from Evanston Preservation Commission's Decision
 December 2018  Request to hear the appeal was denied 9-0
 March 2019  Discussion on next steps for the Mansion. Request was made to return April 15, 2019 with a new RFP.
 April 2019  Harley Clarke Mansion RFP.  Motion was made to remove the option to sell, add additional dates as needed for tours, and expand on community component. Passed 5-3.

Additional Documents and Reports

Memorandum of Understanding with Evanston Lighthouse Dunes

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.

On July 23, 2018, City Council considered Resolution 51-R-18, authorizing the City Manager to execute a funding agreement with the citizens' group known as the Evanston Lighthouse Dunes to pay for costs associated with demolition of the Harley Clarke Mansion and Coach House, grading the property and site restoration. The Resolution was approved 5-3. The City and Evanston Lighthouse Dunes drafted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding funding for the costs associated with the restoration of the dunes and demolition of the Mansion and Coach House.  The MOU was signed on August 27, 2018. 

On August 31, 2018, The City of Evanston filed a Certificate of Appropriateness, that was heard at the Preservation Commission  in October 2018.  On October 23, 2018, the Preservation Commission voted 9-0 to deny the Certificate of Appropriateness that was filed on August 31, 2018. On November 13, the Commission approved its findings. The applicant, following a denial of a certificate of appropriateness by the Commission, may, within 30 days of the denial apply for appeal to the Planning and Development Committee. The deadline is November 21, 2018 (actual deadline, November 22, is Thanksgiving).  A Notice of Appeal from Evanston Preservation Commission's Decision was filed November 20, 2018. On December 10 City Council voted unanimously (9-0 vote) to deny the request to hear the appeal.

Donor Information

The Evanston Lighthouse Dunes has 60 days (from the date of the signing of the MOU on August 27, 2018) to submit $400,000 to the City of Evanston. The donors were able to raise $401,390 by the due date.

Request for Proposal with Evanston Lakehouse & Gardens

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. 

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.