ETHS students were among those who did spring cleaning on the grounds of the Harley Clarke Mansion. Left to right: Zyon Loiseau, Oliver Pasek, Griffin Loeppert, Sophia Osilaja, Elizabeth Johnson and Alexandria Wells. Not pictured: Quinn Lewis, Finn Delmenice and Will Allen.

More than 75 volunteers worked throughout the day on March 23 to rake, sweep and pick up debris on the grounds of the City-owned Harley Clarke Mansion. The spring clean-up effort was organized by Evanston resident Charles Smith.

“Harley Clarke is an architectural gem and we’re trying to shine it up. It has the opportunity to become a community treasure. The goal is to save the building and find multi purposes for it,” said volunteer Larry Lundy.

Volunteers represented all nine wards in Evanston, according to Darlene Cannon, a member of the planning committee for the Harley Clarke Community. “People who were out visiting the lakefront also joined to help,” said Ms. Cannon.

A group of Evanston Township High School students spent the first day of spring break cleaning the area and hauling debris to the parking lot, where the City picked everything up.

Constructed in 1927 by architect Richard Powers for utilities magnate Harley Clarke, the fate of the mansion has been the subject of controversy in recent months. After Evanston aldermen voted 5-3 in July 2018 to accept a proposal for demolition funded by a group of residents, about 80% of Evanston voters said “yes” to a referendum asking if the lakefront mansion should be preserved. The grounds surrounding the mansion were designed by Jens Jensen, who built the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago.

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.