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Our Community Lakehouse

With the lease, Evanston Community Lakehouse and Gardens
will fulfill its mission:
Evanston Community Lakehouse and Gardens seeks to restore and preserve
the Harley Clarke House by creating an inspiring community space that fosters appreciation of the environment and the rich cultural history of Evanston
for use by all Evanston residents and beyond, thus turning this unique and long-neglected space into a true asset for the City and its residents.
Play the video below to learn more about the plan.

The what

Harley Clarke is Evanston's publicly-owned landmark building on the lake. The Harley Clarke mansion and surrounding Jens Jensen gardens are at the heart of a lakefront campus--a campus that already attracts many at Lighthouse Beach, Noah’s Playground for Everyone, and the Grosse Point Lighthouse. Now we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore it for the benefit of Evanston and create space for everyone with a menu of programs designed by and for residents. 

Our plan for the adaptive reuse for Harley Clarke makes use of ideas suggested by hundreds of residents in three community meetings held in early 2019. These ideas include a café, a patio with a lake view, a place to meet and connect, cultural celebrations, seasonal events, and educational and recreational programming. This world-class setting will allow everyone to enjoy Evanston at the lake, year-round. Our plan transforms our asset on the lake into a place that belongs to everyone and where everyone belongs. That's the what.

The why

Our mission recognizes and honors the language of the 2018 fall referendum approved by over 80% of the voters to “preserve and protect the Harley Clarke mansion.” We are grass roots, broadly based, diverse and responsive to community input, including the three community meetings held in early 2019. Our plan is inclusive, practical, and sustainable. It preserves and uses our landmark lakefront asset because the greenest building is the one that’s already built. Using it conforms to Lakefront Master Plan’s goals set in 2008. That’s the why. 

The how

With the lease, ECLG will repurpose Harley Clarke into a community-use space to benefit all Evanston’s residents. Following successful examples in the Chicago area and across the country, we will be financially self-sustaining through a combination of fund-raising, grants, rentals, and program fees.  

On Feb. 28, 2020, we submitted our response to the City of Evanston’s RFP. (link above.) In our response, we detail our financial plan and long-term use agenda that will bring to life the Harley Clarke estate that Evanston families have known and loved for decades. Please donate, pledge, volunteer, partner with us, and contact your elected officials to support our plan.  That’s the how.

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