Harley Clarke House and Garden

IL_Evanston_HarleyClarkeGardens_BonnieJames_2018_06.jpg
Evanston, IL
United States
Harley Clarke House and Garden

Landscape Information

READ ABOUT THE THREAT

Occupying 4.7 acres on the shore of Lake Michigan, the Harley Clarke house was designed in the English Tudor style by Chicago architect Richard Powers in 1927 as a private residence for Harley Lyman Clarke, president of the Utilities Power & Light Corporation. In April 1928 renowned landscape architect Jens Jensen was hired to design the landscape for the property. Jensen brought along his protégé Alfred Caldwell to supervise the work.

The design incorporates many features from the Prairie Style aesthetic that both Jensen and Caldwell championed, while being attentive to the context of the site. Expanses of lawn were oriented to afford views from the residence, particularly of the dunes and Lake Michigan to the east, while stone terraces and walkways linked a series of outdoor rooms demarcated in the landscape by thickets of ornamental shrubs. Jensen planned a border of flowering prairie plants to the north of the property; the repetitive prairie was broken up by shrubs and dogwoods, while hawthorns and crabapples were scattered along the curving driveway linking Sheridan Road to the house. A planting of prairie rose anchored the eastern edge of the property where it met the lakeshore, and a grove of hemlocks was included on the southern edge of the parcel, providing shade for a stone grotto and the home’s attached conservatory while screening the property from the adjacent Grosse Point Lighthouse. 

The Harley Clarke house was among the last grand residences to be built in Evanston before the stock market crash of 1929, its ownership passing to the City of Evanston in 1965. While much of the vegetation in the Jensen plan has been replaced, the overall layout of the property remains essentially the same; a clearing with council ring, a hemlock-shaded grotto, and stone terraces and paths also remain. The property is designated an Evanston Landmark and is a contributing feature of the Northeast Evanston Historic District, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.