A Little Time and a Keyboard: History and Views at Grosse Point Lighthouse in Evanston, Illinois

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

History and Views at Grosse Point Lighthouse in Evanston, Illinois

History and Views at Grosse Point Lighthouse in Evanston, Illinois

History and Views at Grosse Point Lighthouse in Evanston, Illinois

A visit Grosse Point Lighthouse in Evanston treats us to tranquil and fantastic Lake Michigan views blended with a little bit of history. We walk the grounds of Grosse Point Lighthouse several times of year admiring the commanding and historic structure, unobstructed crystal views of the lake and the sing-song landscape of the dunes. 

Grosse Point Lighthouse rises above the dunes.
Grosse Point Lighthouse rises above the dunes.

The History of Exploration Touches Evanston:

The promontory Grosse Point Lighthouse stands upon was originally charted by  French explorers Louis Joliet and Father Jacques Marquette in 1673. The Chicago River meets Lake Michigan just north of Grosse Point. Joliet recognized the importance of the area for travel and trade upon the lake with the proximity of the Chicago River. As traffic on Lake Michigan increased, so did naval tragedies as ships would become wrecked along the shoals of Grosse Point. 


The most tragic of the shipping accidents in the area occurred on September 8, 1860 when the Lady Elgin passenger vessel struck a lumber-carrying schooner somewhere between Highwood and Highland Park. Lady Elgin had been sailing back to Milwaukee porting passengers that had sailed to Chicago for political speeches. Estimates are that about 300-400 passengers perished. After this tragedy, citizens pushed for a lighthouse Construction of a lighthouse was then delayed to the Civil War. Congress finally approved construction of the lighthouse in 1871 with construction running 1872-1874.

Harley Clarke Mansion constructed in 1927.
Harley Clarke Mansion constructed in 1927.

Next to Grosse Point Lighthouse is another interesting structure -- the Harley Clarke Mansion. The stunning mansion was constructed for utilities magnate Harley Clarke in 1927. The family owned the home until 1949 eventually having to sell it due to losses incurred during the Great Depression. The mansion has gone through a variety of owners. The Harley Clarke Mansion was almost demolished in recent times. However, the village is currently working on a potential renovation plan.


The rocky shore along Lake Michigan treats to interesting views.
The rocky shore along Lake Michigan treats to interesting views.

While visiting Grosse Point, we enjoy a walk along the beach. The beach is rocky and you may notice others enjoying the unique rocks dotting the beach. Views are incredible and calming for the soul!

Grosse Point Lighthouse is currently closed due to the pandemic. So, you can explore outside but not indoors. However, there is an online virtual tour to explore.

While in Evanston, visit:


Grosse Point Lighthouse  in Evanston, Illinois


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