Highland Park Theatre

445 Central Avenue,
Highland Park, IL 60035

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HIGHLAND PARK (ALCYON) Theatre; Highland Park, Illinois.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Tudor Revival style Highland Park Theatre, originally called the Alcyon Theatre, has now been split into four screens.

The most striking feature of the theater is its odd blocky marquee and the strange color blocks which decorate the entrance. Definitely a mix of styles.

It was closed on May 6, 2012

Contributed by Dave Wiegers

Recent comments (view all 42 comments)

DavidZornig on November 16, 2016 at 11:50 am

Probably the most telling paragraph in the story, as well as in the 2014 comment.

“The city purchased the struggling movie theater for $2.1 million in 2009 with the intent of keeping an entertainment venue at the eastern edge of the city’s downtown. The city continued to operate the movie theater until mid 2012, when it was closed for fire code violations.”

So now instead of spending the money 4 years ago to get it up to their own code (which they should have known when they bought it), they now are taking a million dollar loss.

“It abruptly closed in summer of 2012 after code violations came to light”? What would have been the costs to get it up to code back then, so it could have at least continued operating and making money the last 4 years? Or at a minimum made it more attractive to potential investors as an active venue that could remain that way. Versus a dormant property for tear down.

Sounds like the city really didn’t want it there, and thought they could flip it much faster. I wonder if they had invested in digital projectors, so it it could have ran first run films.

DavidZornig on November 16, 2016 at 12:03 pm

This link has the chronology through May 2016, with a breakdown of the public feedback as of then.


Excerpt here:

Public feedback was attained through a survey that was available from September 21 – October 17, 2015. At its October 26, 2015 Committee of the Whole Meeting, the City presented results from the public survey. The City received 353 responses to the survey; however, because the survey was voluntary, the results are not scientific and only reflect the sentiments of those who responded and not the public as a whole. Public feedback from the survey was considered directional and was one of several components considered to assist the City in making a final determination regarding the property. Overall, survey respondents noted that neighborhood impact and land use were the most important characteristics of development for the Theater. Historic preservation and public parking were ranked as less significant factors that should be considered.

The link also has a good 2011 night shot with the marquee lit, which I re-posted in the Photos Section as there was none.

Broan on November 16, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Well-analyzed, David.

LouRugani on November 20, 2016 at 12:22 pm

HIGHLAND PARK, IL – It appears that a new retail building with a restaurant, offices and a garden will soon replace the Highland Park Theater on Central Avenue in downtown Highland Park. The city approved the $1.1 million sale of the theatre building and property for $1.1 million to the Highland Park-based Canel Companies, which says it plans to demolish the theatre and replace it with a two-story building that will include retail shops and a restaurant, according to a city news release. A portion of a nearby parking lot will be preserved for nearby business owners.

The city’s news release indicates Canel Companies’ proposed design is “consistent with the character of the current façade.” The selling price reflects the appraised value of the building.

Broan on November 23, 2016 at 10:55 am

Upon opening, the Alcyon was operated by Louis Laemmle, brother of Carl Laemmle, founder of Universal Pictures, who had a small circuit. In 1932, it was operated by Johnny Jones of Jones, Linick, and Shaefer, then in 1933 by the Orchard Theatre Company, before going back to William Pearl

Trolleyguy on September 7, 2017 at 3:37 pm

The online auction of the theatre’s equipment and seating is beginning. After the auction is completed, the theatre will be demolished. Article in Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/highland-park/news/

midtown_kc on September 9, 2017 at 2:57 am


Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on September 9, 2017 at 4:53 pm

It’s a shame to see it go. But it gets more and more difficult to run a movie theater every year. Renovations with the best of intentions also don’t always work out so well (Skokie Theater for example).

I just hope the new development is not a monstrosity with no respect downtown Highland Park’s character. They put in a new residential building in downtown Wilmette a couple years ago, on the site of an old Ford Dealer. Not only is it taller than any other building nearby, but the building style kind of looks like it belongs in a theme park. All in all is sticks out like a sore thumb.

gregger59 on September 15, 2017 at 2:19 pm

I agree, LTS. I spoke last summer to Willis Johnson, owner of Classic Cinemas who saved a good number of theaters in the Western Suburbs, and basically he said the primary factor that sealed the HPT’s fate was when the city allowed Landmark to build its multiscreen theater practically next door at Renaissance Place. Too many screens in too small a geography. Meanwhile, Alcyon Foundation could not generate sufficient interest in the community in having and preserving a vintage theater. Their communication efforts were not helped by the fact that the theater’s historic architecture and charm had been totally compromised and papered over decades prior, so that hardly anyone could muster any sentiment for the building. The weird chapter of the theater being owned and run briefly by the City is fun to discuss but not really relevant. (Surely if the City cared, some improvements to meet fire code could have kept it open.) The other factors make up the typical recipe for losing an old theater, so far as I can see.

Khnemu on September 18, 2017 at 8:58 pm

You can own a piece of the Highland Park Theater:


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