Group hopes to save historic Evanston mansion on lakefront

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The Harley-Clarke Mansion in Evanston could be demolished. (WLS)

Evanston's last public lakefront building could be demolished, but a group of activists are looking to save it.

The Evanston City Council will consider June 18 a proposal to demolish the century-old Harley-Clarke Mansion and its gardens, returning the land to its natural state.

However, nonprofit Evanston Lakehouse and Gardens said they have a plan to repurpose the building and use it for environmental education. The plan would cost $4 million to $5 million and the group said they have secured some funding.

"If we demolish this building what are we going to gain? We might gain a quarter acre of grass. We don't need more grass, there's grass all around us here in this park," said Tom Hodgman, president of Evanston Lakehouse and Gardens

In May, proponents for demolition appeared before a city committee to present their plan.

"I would rather talk about the plans to save it and have this wonderful building that is going to be renovated and repurposed for the whole community into an environmental education center, a place for cultural events and special events," said Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th Ward). "It would just be a wonderful amenity for the whole community."

Evanston children even enjoy the area.

"It is a beautiful treasure to the beach," said Declan Madden. "Every time I look at it, every time I go to the beach, I say that is beautiful and when I am at the beach I love going and visiting the lagoon over there."
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