Highland Park Theatre
445 Central Avenue,
11 people favorited this theater
Previously operated by: Brotman & Sherman Theaters
Architects: William D. Mann
Styles: Tudor Revival
Previous Names: Alcyon Theatre
News About This Theater
- May 7, 2012 — Highland Park closes movie theater
- Sep 12, 2011 — Highland Park will ask developers for options for theater building
The Tudor Revival style Alcyon Theatre was opened on September 24, 1925. It was equipped with a Barton 3 manual 13 ranks organ. It was renamed Highland Park Theatre on August 14, 1965. It has since been split into four screens.
The most striking feature of the theatre 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 and demolition began in June 2018.
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Recent comments (view all 46 comments)
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.
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.
Demolition to begin next week.
Chicago Tribune link.
Such a shame it was not saved. It might have made a good performing arts venue.
Considering all the promises the city made to Apple Tree Theater, none of where were kept, who would trust the city to do anything for the arts? (This is now the fourth movie theater to be demolished in Highland Park. Such a good track record!)
November 3 – Not only is the theater gone but they are already starting on its replacement building.
Article with final photos of the place before it was demolished. https://jonrev.com/2018/06/10/highland-park-theater/
Reopened as Highland Park on August 14th, 1965. Grand opening ad poste
The Alcyon Theatre Opened On September 24, 1925.
Two images added to gallery.
Additional history below credit Highland Park Historical Society.
Shortly after the opening, owners William and Bertha Pearl executed a 15 year lease for both the Alycon and Pearl for 35,000$/year to the Highland Park Theater Co, according to the Chicago Tribune (Nov. 3, 1925), citing lawyers for both parties. The 1925 theater installed a “3/13” Barton Organ. (Junchen, David L. Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ. Pasadena, Calif: Showcase Publications, 1985.) In January 1928, a “bandit” robbed the safe and fled with $2100, 3 days income. The thief covered the assistant manager, Saul Greenberg, with a blanket before locking him in the washroom. (Chicago Daily Tribune) The Bulletin of the Chicago Medical Society V33 cites the Alycon for installing systems so the “hearing impaired” could listen to “Talkies.”
In 1940, Pearl installed additional RCA sound equipment in the (now) 1150 seat theater.“ (Motion Picture Herald. New York, N.Y: Quigley Pub. Co., vol. 140, nos. 71-113. 1940.)