Highland Park Theatre

445 Central Avenue,
Highland Park, IL 60035

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Showing 1 - 25 of 46 comments

Hugh on November 3, 2018 at 2:55 pm

November 3 – Not only is the theater gone but they are already starting on its replacement building.

Hugh on September 2, 2018 at 10:31 pm

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!)

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on June 21, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Such a shame it was not saved. It might have made a good performing arts venue.

DavidZornig on June 6, 2018 at 6:54 pm

Demolition to begin next week.
Chicago Tribune link.


Khnemu on September 18, 2017 at 7:58 pm

You can own a piece of the Highland Park Theater:


gregger59 on September 15, 2017 at 1:19 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.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on September 9, 2017 at 3:53 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.

midtown_kc on September 9, 2017 at 1:57 am


Trolleyguy on September 7, 2017 at 2:37 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/

Broan on November 23, 2016 at 9:55 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

LouRugani on November 20, 2016 at 11:22 am

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 16, 2016 at 11:52 am

Well-analyzed, David.

DavidZornig on November 16, 2016 at 11:03 am

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.

DavidZornig on November 16, 2016 at 10:50 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.

Khnemu on November 16, 2016 at 7:23 am

The Highland Park Theater has been sold to a developer and may be torn down next year.


LouRugani on January 29, 2014 at 12:44 am

Highland Park Theater up for sale

The City of Highland Park won’t help to preserve the Highland Park Theatre and is offering the theatre for sale without restrictions and may throw in an adjoining parking lot to sweeten the deal. Monday the city learned that the non-profit Alcyon Foundation can’t raise the capital needed to restore and reopen the theatre for live performances, film festivals and private events. Mayor Nancy Rotering told reporters after a closed session “The city has exhausted numerous efforts to redevelop the property in a way that meets the goals and desires of the community, reduces the financial burden placed on residents, and complements the business community.”

There was a two-year effort to preserve the theatre, and the city was dealing with a developer on a combined condo, retail and theatre, but the agreement lapsed last February over cost concerns.

The city bought the struggling theatre for $2.1 million in 2009 in part for concerns about preservation and for the possibility for larger redevelopments. It abruptly closed in summer of 2012 after code violations came to light. It’s zoned for commercial use and has been divided into four theatres ranging from 130 to 410 seats. The city invited anyone interested, or with questions about the council’s action, to call the city manager’s office at 847-926-1000.

RiisPark on April 25, 2013 at 5:14 pm

City council to move soon on unloading the theatre, hopefully to a group willing to restore it and show movies again.

Broan on April 11, 2013 at 3:59 pm

http://blog.chicagohistory.org/index.php/2013/04/well-see-you-at-the-movies/ This blog post indicates that the Alcyon was the basis for Siskel & Ebert’s WTTW program.

RiisPark on March 12, 2013 at 6:13 pm

In 1967 I first went to the Highland Park with my girlfiend at the time, Debbie Zwierczyk. We saw a WC Fields double feature (there was a revival of Field’s work at the time). The place was packed and the laughter shook the room. What a great memory.

Bruce C.
Bruce C. on June 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Thanks Broan! That’s really good news. I was wondering what was happening to the building.

Broan on June 17, 2012 at 8:27 am

They’re trying to reopen, so I wouldn’t hold your breath

CSWalczak on June 17, 2012 at 1:30 am

The website lists as the contact website; if that does not work, you might want to contact the city of Highland Park, IL as the city owns the theater at (847) 432-0800 .

ejfigueroa1978 on June 17, 2012 at 12:32 am

Does anyone have the email address for the theater? I’m looking to get my hands on a concession stand. Please email me the info.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on May 17, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Too bad. I remember seeing Superman here, as well as the first Star Trek movie. Definitely childhood highlights. This might have been the best twinning I ever saw. They split the long auditorium front to back. Both were pretty good screening rooms.