Deerpath Theatre

272 E. Deerpath Road,
Lake Forest, IL 60045

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50sSNIPES on July 4, 2022 at 5:49 pm

It appears that the Deerpath closed its doors as late as March 1987.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 8, 2020 at 9:44 pm

Planning for the Deerpath Theatre began nearly three years before it was opened. Here is an item from the November 21, 1925 issue of Exhibitors Trade Review:

“LAKE FOREST, ILL. Archt: Anderson & Ticknor, care Jas. A. Anderson, Deerpath. Drawing plans on theatres, stores, and offices at N. E. Forest and Deerpath. Owner— Estate of Jas. Anderson, Geo. Anderson, trustee.”
The James Anderson Trust, owners of the property, was named for architect Stanley Anderson’s grandfather, a Lake Forest pioneer.

orsonwellescinema on March 30, 2017 at 9:26 pm

The ceiling was incredible, dark blue with painted clouds and stars and all. Really neat. Leaning back and staring up at it, I was always impressed.

orsonwellescinema on March 30, 2017 at 9:23 pm

Saw so many movies here it’s impossible to count.

I remember Rocky 3 being a particularly rowdy screening.

Didn’t like seeing Star Wars with a noticeable hole in the screen, but that’s the way it was for a very short while :)

Superman 3 ushered in the $5 ticket price. That was memorable, because up until then it was always $3 and $3.50, with $1.50 matinees. Very affordable for a kid.

I believe Blood Simple was the last film I saw there.

Also, Witness played there close to the end. I’m pretty sure it was playing there in November of 1985. My parents saw it.

orsonwellescinema on March 30, 2017 at 9:06 pm

Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical Society Newsletter

ALPHABET STORIES – D Deerpath and The Deluxe Theaters

Newcomers to Lake Forest and Lake Bluff may be unaware that long ago there was a movie theater located in downtown Lake Forest. People who remember the Deerpath Theater on Deerpath, located just a block west of Walgreens, may not know that in the late 1920s where were two movie theaters in Lake Forest, one in Highwood, and two in Highland Park. If the discerning movie fan couldn’t find a film he or she wanted to see, there was always Waukegan with its magnificent Genesee Theater.

The 1920s was the era where movies ruled the entertainment world. The names of the films changed several times a week, and there was always something new to see. The first movie house in Lake Forest was called The Deluxe. It was situated on Westminster, approximately where the old O’Neil Hardware Store once stood. However, the dominance of the Deluxe was to be challenged in the fall of 1928 when it was announced that a grand movie house would soon be built a few blocks away.

Much publicity was raised about the new project. The architect was Stanley Anderson. In 1928, one of the ads in the Lake Forester discussed the opening of the Deerpath Theater by saying, “It is the intention of the management to set a standard in entertainment that is worthy of the people of Lake Forest and adjacent territory.” The curiosity of the public was fed as the construction of the building continued. One article exclaimed, “The new theater is one of the finest on the North Shore, equipped with every modern facility including a splendid pipe organ.” An organist was hired and touted to be among the finest. These were the days when the ‘talkies’ had not yet become the rule, so it was important for an organist to play as an underline to the on-screen action.

Then on September 1, 1928, the somewhat delayed opening finally took place. The occasion was marked with the filming of the crowds attending the event. Whetting the appetites of the town, the grand opening was preceded with large ads in the Lake Forester. After the first night, a review of the theater said, “Architects are to be congratulated on achieving a theater that lacks the ornate embellishments of the usual movie houses. … The furnishing has been reserved as the theater itself demands.” The featured film for the opening was “Glorious Betsy.” Joseph Emma of Lake Forest was the manager of the theater for nearly all of its existence in town.

The Deluxe fought hard to maintain its place, and urged people to come to the original theater where they would find the best programs, with no increase in prices. Both theaters offered children’s matinees with a weekly serial such as Tarzan and a cartoon. Eventually, the Deluxe closed, and the Deerpath outlived all of its competitors in the surrounding towns. Its doors closed in 1985.

Broan on September 25, 2015 at 4:59 am

The architects for this theater are sometimes given as Stanley
D. Anderson and James H. Ticknor. Betts may have contributed.

DavidZornig on July 3, 2015 at 10:10 pm

1965 photo added courtesy of Erin Murphy Foley. Earlier marquee.

DavidZornig on July 3, 2015 at 9:57 pm

Crisper original image of the year book cover photo added, courtesy of Bob Craig. Via the I Remember Lake Forest When… Facebook page.

orsonwellescinema on April 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Here’s some additional background information on the Deerpath Theatre. It’s from a 2007 interview with actress Joan Taylor (1929-2012), who passed away on last month –

Q: When did you get the itch to start to perform?

My mom was a dancing teacher, and my dad became the manager of a motion picture theater in Lake Forest, Illinois. It was called the Deerpath Theater — a lot of deer used to go past there down to Lake Michigan. We would go to movies at my dad’s theater on Friday nights, Shirley Temple was on the screen and, whoops, all of a sudden I wanted to do “On the Good Ship Lollipop” [laughs]! My first job was as a cashier in his theater. My mom would never let me wear slacks, but I made $13 my first week as a cashier and of course the first thing I did was buy a pair of beautiful wool slacks for $13. I earned that money, so I could go buy myself what I wanted!”

Q: What did it feel like to be 20 years old and sixth-billed in your first movie?

Felt good [laughs]. It felt really good! Of course, going from stage to movies, you have to [modify your acting]. The same way that boiling water has to be covered with a lid, you’ve got to keep things in; you don’t throw things to the back of the house, so to speak, as an actress on the stage would. I had to learn how to kinda hold things in a little bit. That was hard, coming from the stage. The world premiere was in Topeka, Kansas; I remember going there on a train, playing cards with Dale. At that premiere, there was a parade and there was the mayor and duh-dah duh-dah duh-dah [laughs], because there was Randolph Scott and also Dale Robertson, who became a star after that picture. Again, it was great. Then I went on into Chicago and was met by the newspaper people, and pictures in the newspaper, and all of the Hollywood stuff.

Q: Back in your own home state.

Yes! Then we went into Lake Forest and we had a “premiere” at my dad’s theater—with, of course, pictures of me putting my own name up on my dad’s marquee. “Home Town Girl Makes Good”!

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on August 29, 2010 at 9:23 pm

From the early 1900s a photo of the Deerpath Theatre in Lake Forest.

balabankatz on October 23, 2009 at 9:15 pm

It was not a twin. It was remodeled in the very early 80’s and the organ was even restored. It was reopened as the Deerpath 2. Airline seats, private rooms (back of the main floor) good for crying babies, early satellite TV (in the lobby and private rooms), and a rockin Dolby stereo sound system. Pink Floyd The Wall was there right after it reopened. Another cool theater that died due to the Loews / CO multiplex build mania then bankruptcy.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on April 22, 2009 at 10:14 am

The Deerpath in 1982:

View link

I don’t remember this theatre being twinned, and yet there is a big “2” on the marquee. Curious.

jeanfilkins on November 2, 2008 at 2:14 pm

Andy! Yay! I would love to hear what you’ve been up to in the past… decades… could you e-mail me at jeanlass @ gmail .com? I don’t think it would be good form to shanghai this thread with discussions of 9th grade chorus.

andrewgage on November 2, 2008 at 9:34 am

Despite most predictions to the contrary, yes I did graduate from LFHS. How ya doin' “Feetsy” Filkins? It’s been a long long time hasn’t it?

jeanfilkins on May 1, 2008 at 6:30 pm

Very fond memories of the Deerpath Theatre in the 70s: amen to the sticky floors, the 1920s Tudor revival decor and bargain that was the Saturday matinée— generally a very oddly matched double feature for about a dollar. Blinking in the bright light of a summer afternoon after watching “Lost Horizon” and “Westworld”… heady stuff. The interior signage was thematic and “ye olde,” too; I still remember the decorative font used in the signs over the interior doors. Warner Brothers' Robin Hood Gothic Bold. (As a kid I puzzled over the word “aisle” for ages— what could it mean?)
Andrew Gage, I must ask: did you graduate from LFHS?

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 8, 2007 at 8:25 am

That is an interesting point. The Winnetka Community House, which sits in the middle of a town with almost identical demographics, has a steady flow of events. Maybe Lake Forest missed the boat on this one.

andrewgage on March 8, 2007 at 8:05 am

Lake Forest has had relatively few historical losses over the years, and I count among them Villa Turricum and the Deerpath Theatre. The Deerpath was a charming theatre with a stage and a pipe organ, and two ranks of pipes flanking the screen, with as I recall, a pair of the comedy/tragedy masks decorating the pipe enclosures. I think there was even a small orchestra pit in front of the stage/screen. I vaguely recall some heavy old-English-styled chandeliers hanging from the ceiling as well… but it was so long ago, I’m not sure.

I think the Deerpath suffered from bad management for many years, which ultimately led to its demise, aided by the era of VHS. Unlike its rival, the Highland Park Theatre which showed first-run movies, the Deerpath only screened re-runs. I saw “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Gone With The Wind,” “The Wizard of OZ,” and “Cabaret” there for the first time, all first-rate pictures but in their second- third- twentieth-runs. The only movie I know of that premiered at the Deerpath was “Thank God It’s Friday”…

I never saw the Deerpath after its remodeling, but I was told the balcony was sectioned off into private booths, and the seats were replaced. It seemed a shame, the direction it was headed.

How sad it is to think that a city like Lake Forest could have let its only in-town movie theatre bite the dust and become a (egads!) shopping mall! The theatre had a stage, for god’s sake. A better management team might have welcomed local theatre groups (such as Group For…) and orchestral groups to perform there. That opportunity is now gone.

Silly things I remember about the Deerpath: The floors were often sticky with spilled soda (they didn’t clean the theatre very well I guess); going to the corner Baskin-Robbins for ice cream after every show; my parents forbidding me to sit in the balcony (where all the stoners used to hang out).

shead on November 2, 2005 at 8:09 pm

Spent a lot of time at the Deerpath in the ‘70s and early '80s. Such a beutiful theater. It was mainly a second-run theater, with prices between $1.50 to $3.00. They played mainly family-oriented films. Not to may R-rated features. The played Rocky 1-3, Star Wars, Empire, E.T., and Raiders. And among the rarities I recall Posse, The Late Show, Silent Movie, and Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen.

It was closed and renovated in 1982. It re-opened as a first-run theater (with a $5.00 ticket price) in 1983 with Superman III. The remodeling included, as previously mentioned, airline seats. But but all of the seats were airline seats. There was a column of them in the center, four to each row (?), for maybe the rear half of the theater.

The theater had a terrific balcony. According to, The Deerpath and the Catlow were somewhat similar in their architectural floorplans – the significant difference being the Catlow’s lack of a balcony. The Deerpath’s interior design motif was quite different and Iannelli was not involved with that design in any way. The theater closed its doors in the early 1980’s. It has since been converted into a small shopping mall.

My best recollection is The Deerpath closed in 1985, with Witness (which my Mom and Dad saw there) possibly being its last feature.

Broan on February 26, 2005 at 9:47 am

Digitalpast seems to have changed their directory system. View link should be the new URL, but if it expires, simply search for deerpath on Some other promotional material from the theatre is also viewable this way.

alexgor23 on November 16, 2004 at 7:37 am

The coolest part about the theater, at least in its later years, was the fact that it had real airplane seats in the middle of each row. And not the chincy coach seats of today, but the old comfy reclining seats.