Highland Park Theatre

445 Central Avenue,
Highland Park, IL 60035

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Showing 26 - 34 of 34 comments

VicLee on July 21, 2006 at 10:13 am

I was an usher at the Highland Park Theater in 1975 and 1976. I have fond memories of this place. Back then it was still just one screen but you could feel the history of the place even back then. In back of the screen was like an old playhouse with old dressing rooms and wardrobes still there…kinda spooky but cool. They must have also put on stage plays there a long time ago. Changing the lights in the ceiling of the theater was an adventure. You had to climb an old ladder behund the screen and make sure U didnt fall thru the ceiling while changing the lights. Even in the 70’s the old balcony was closed by the fire dept. but it was great for an usher to take his dates up there…we had the whole balcony to ourselves! I used to superglue a quarter on the sidewalk in front just to watch people trying to pick it up. Hey ushering can be boring during the movie! I still think of that place for some reason….even after 30 years. Kinda sad its 4 screens now. But such is economics, I still vividly remember every nook and cranny of that place.

Broan on May 30, 2006 at 3:47 am

I spoke to the very friendly owner the other day actually; he said that the theater has a large base of loyal customers and that although the Renaissance multi a few blocks away took maybe 10% of business away; however it also helped open the local audience to art films, which is now the specialty. It’s really a very neat place, and it’s worth seeing just to look at the way they split it. It’s a very high-quality split; they put the wall halfway between the back wall and the stage so the main house is only split into two pretty sizable theaters with very big screens. A corridor was made along the side of the rear theater, and the partition wall was plastered and paneled to look like the original wall. This was extended into a former exit corridor to reach the third screen on the stage, which is more of a shoebox, but still decently done. The fourth screen, also a shoebox is built out of dead space upstairs and is accessed by the old stairs to the balcony. The small horseshoe balcony is used to access the various projection booths. It’s all very cleverly done. The owner also confirmed my architect information.

General Cinemas were often really just called CINEMA or CINEMA I & II or so on. The town name was just tacked on to differentiate them.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on May 30, 2006 at 3:00 am

So then there were 2 theatres named Highland Park? The one on Central Ave. and the one on Deerpath Road? Obviously they were not related.

How is this cinema doing considering the new multi-plexes that have opened up here?

Broan on May 25, 2006 at 4:26 am

I’m really quite confident that this is a William B. Betts design. The tudor style is so rare, and it reappears 4 times in the Chicago area. The Deerpath was similarly attributed to local architect Stanley D. Anderson – a well-connected Lake Forest architect – despite the fact that its interior is a dead ringer for the Catlow. On top of that, William D. Mann’s office was directly next door to Betts & Holcomb. I’m pretty sure it was just attributed to Mann to gain local support.

Broan on April 5, 2006 at 6:12 am

And he actually lived at 218 N Sheridan in Highland Park, so perhaps this was a Betts & Holcomb design attributed to Mann because a Highland Park architect would be more attractive to local investment.

Broan on April 5, 2006 at 6:11 am

Mann also designed an addition to the old Moraine Hotel in Highland Park and stores at the SW corner of Sheridan and Park

Broan on April 5, 2006 at 6:03 am

The Alcyon was announced in the Jan 11, 1925 Chicago Tribune, including a drawing.

“Architect William D. Mann believes suburban business buildings should harmonize architecturally with their surroundings. Therefore when he was commissioned to design a film theater for Highland Park, instead of the usual boxlike structure, overloaded with gingerbread designs, he planned the above attractive piece of architecture along old English lines – a thing of beauty and an asset to the neighborhood.

It is being erected on the north side of Central avenue, east of and near to Sheridan road. The owner now operates the Pearl theater in Highland Park. It’ll not be called “The Capitol” or “The Panorama” or “The Orpheum”! A good old English name will probably be selected—a name in keeping with the architectural charm of the building.

According to Mr. Mann, it will have 1,100 seats, with a regulation stage. The interior decorations will be carried out along old English lines. Instead of a balcony there will be a circle of boxes all around the auditorium. The building will have two stores, with studios on the second floor. The exterior will be plastered, with hand carved timbers and with slate roof. Completion date is set for July 1."

Interestingly, Mann’s studio was adjacent to Betts & Holcomb, who built the similarly Tudor Catlow, Glen, and Deerpath theaters. Surely there was some influence between them.

Broan on May 29, 2005 at 5:57 pm

Updated photo link: View link

wordspecs on January 17, 2005 at 9:21 am

Brian, I am new to your site. We publish a magazine for Highland Parkers and we would like to know if there is a photos of the old Alcyon that we could have rights to use. We would, of course, give proper photo credit, or if there is a fee, please communication. You can reacy me by email at