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A model for what might be done with our landmark Harley Clarke mansion is the Elizabeth Cheney mansion in Oak Park.  It is a conference, event and educational center owned by the local Park District. Children’s and adult’s classes are held there, and it is also a popular place for weddings and graduation celebrations.

The Preservation League of Evanston is sponsoring a talk by Poppy Vogel, the executive director of the Cheney mansion, at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 8 at the Evanston Public Library’s community room. She will talk about the history, programming and finances of the Cheney mansion.

The Harley Clarke’s lakefront location, its size and potential amenities make it a really interesting example for doing something similar to the Cheney mansion.

Preserving the adjacent public parkland and access to our National Landmark Grosse Point Lighthouse and the beach are key components to future decisions about Harley Clarke. Money to restore and re-purpose the building is the elephant in the room during this decision-making period. 

Preserving this landmark house and the Jens Jensen garden is important to many in Evanston, and the house and grounds are of course protected by the Evanston Preservation Ordinance, so any changes would require a certificate of appropriateness from the Evanston Preservation Commission. There are thus many issues involved in the City Council’s upcoming decision in late September.

Please join the Preservation League and interested Evanston neighbors to hear Ms. Vogel talk about one fruitful possibility.

Mary Brugliera is president of the Preservation League of Evanston.