We believe it is possible to allow more citizens to visit and enjoy the dunes and parkland- and eliminate any future financial risk to the City.

The vision proposed here is to recover the natural landscape of the Harley Clarke Estate as a living laboratory that enhances Lighthouse Landing Park- resulting into an expanded green space for the City of Evanston.

The landscape would be restored and invasive species would be removed from the dunes.  We are hopeful that “phase II” of this plan could be collaborative and community driven in focus.  Involvement from the Garden Club,  ETHS Green Team, Evanston Environmental Association and others could offer addition expertise and guidance for the restoration and naturalization of the dunes.

Benefits of the plan:

  • free, inclusive environment for all residents
  • enhancement of the visual impact of the Grosse Point Lighthouse, a historic and iconic symbol of Evanston
  • expansion of the natural ecosystem that increases habitat for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife
  • partnership with existing Ecology Center programming to use the recently renovated fog houses as educational spaces and laboratories for community-wide educational offerings
  • reduction of the carbon footprint left by 20,000 square foot house

14 thoughts on “Naturalization

  1. It is clear- the main usage will be for limited use, limited ages and abilities, no revenues, on a seasonal schedule. Just as it is now. Very sad indeed!
    Reduced income, reduced jobs, while added pollution to the area and landfills, critical legal step in destorying a Landmarked building. Is wrong for Evanston. Please join in by restoring the publically owned Harley Clarke Mansion house with Jen Jensens Gardens.
    This is an Exceptionally Rare, public community house on the waterfront, to enjoy all year long. One of 41 homes in Evanston are on the waterfront. None are public.
    Truly a jewel on the lake for all to enjoy.
    Repurposing the Landmarked mansion for all to enjoy, restoring and expanding the Jens Jensen Gardens is the right step forward with embracing our past and offering enhanced programing for the lighthouse, the historical stages of the area, and indoor gardening desires for all ages all abilities.

    Enhancing a city owned asset valued over 2 million dollars, providing jobs, creative outlets, musueum satellites, year-long gardening with the most rare views, awakens physical senses and well being for our community is priceless. A continued celebration of life and learning.
    Please join the citizens of Evanston preservating and enhancing our living history on the rarest of jems, our 10 acre public waterfront campus. Be Well!


  2. This proposal seems to be the least-cost alternative with the best long-term public benefit. As I understand it, after the building is gone and the site is restored to a more natural condition, the property will still be owned by the City and will remain publicly accessible to all. What is the downside to that? I live in downtown Evanston and don’t get up that way everyday, but am fully supportive of the plan and would be willing to donate funds for its success. Thank you for your efforts!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Returning this city albatross to a natural state has been my position for the last 3 years. Any other solution will mandate an increased need for parking and even less access to the beach. These should be automatic non starters. Where can I donate?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Glad to see someone promoting the idea of removing the albatross of the Harley-Clarke mansion from the city’s neck and creating more green space on our lakefront. This concept doesn’t seem to have received enough consideration in the debate.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How is there such a discrepancy in the cost of renovation for HC vs. other similar structures? We need significant funding for Evanston facilities that everyone uses (most importantly, the kids of Evanston) and I’m just concerned that Evanston again is going to get stuck footing the bill…


    • The cost of rehabbing Harley Clarke is about $5 million. Life-safety issues can be brought up too code for about $500,000. Threse figures are available on the city website.
      The building is about 30,000 square feet which works out to $166/SF.
      This WAS a facility that was used by a lot of Evanston people.


  6. 3 studies have found the building to be sound. All are available on the city website. So get your facts straight.
    The building is unused because the city is dragging its feet. The art center was there for 40+ years with classes and events for the entire community.


    • Thanks for the opportunity to clarify this, Emily. No where here does it say the building is unsound- our concern is that other similar projects ended up spending much more than ELGH is estimating. It was our hope that the final ELGH proposal would explain how they planned to renovate for even less than the IDNR proposal and turn the mansion into a large event space- effectively privatizing it on wedding weekends.


      • Name the other similar projects please. We did sure diligence.

        We have talked to Cheney Mansion in Oak Park, the Grove in Glenview, Highfield hall out east.
        Locally we’ve talked to the Evanston history center and first Methodist Church about their rehabs. The numbers are right in line with what was spent there.


  7. The Harley Clarke mansion is a city treasure. A Lakehouse for ALL Evanstonians to enjoy. The Evanston Lakehouse and Gardens has a wonderful plan so that it CAN be used by all. Now that Northwestern has built a $250 million practice facility and all the development that mars the beach, looking to the south, the beautiful Harley Clarke mansion is even more important than ever to enjoy the area. It would not be the same without it. The lake, the lighthouse, the mansion, the gardens and the beach go together. You can do all the things you mention without depriving this wonderful city of more of its character. The people have jumped through hoops to preserve the mansion for long enough and followed every last process to a T. Let the Lakehouse Group just raise money, as they are asking to do and give our city a Crown Jewel!


    • I think your comment highlights an important point. Green space is more important now than ever! With increased building throughout Evanston, lets highlight the jewel of the city- its pristine lakefront. I think this group can work with Lakehouse Gardens to accomplish some of their community and District 65 programming on newly naturalized land! Save the donations for Robert Crown!


      • We have 85 parks in Evanston. There are 3 parcels at Lighthouse Landing Park, totalling almost 7 acres. Another 10,000 square feet won’t much.

        And please remember: the reason to landmark is to protect that building and all landmarks from damage and demolition.


  8. Well thought out plan! People need to focus on the green space and the beach. Why are we still talking about spending money no one has to save a building no one uses?

    Liked by 1 person

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