LFLB History Museum

Deer Path Inn: Staycation and Vacation Luxury

For the new Deerpath Inn opening on Illinois Road in 1929, proprietor Edwin Burgess envisioned a modern, well-appointed hotel, larger in scale than the previous Inn, a converted house, yet still architecturally consistent with Lake Forest’s country homes and stately business houses. Architect William C. Jones of the firm Holabird & Root designed the new Inn, basing it on the Manor House in Chiddingstone, Kent, England, with half-timbering and stucco in the Tudor style.

The 102-room hotel offered a distinguished setting combined with comforts, such as a bath in each room. The interior was elaborately furnished in harmony with the architecture and included early English and American furnishings. The new location was within blocks of the Onwentsia Club, which had eliminated its overnight cottages when its new clubhouse was built in 1928.

The only hotel in the city of Lake Forest, the Deerpath Inn sought to mimic the luxurious apartment houses in Chicago. The Inn could accommodate both transient and more permanent guests, offering “all the comforts of home with complete elimination of the cares and anxieties of the private home.” The idea of residing in a Lake Forest hotel for long periods was appealing to many at the time; whether they had closed their estate for the season, were in between residences, or were up from Chicago for the summer for leisure pursuits. The Deerpath advertised this “live-in” characteristic and offered many amenities over the years such as a restaurant, dinner dances, card parties, a beauty parlor, a boutique, a luxurious ladies’ lounge, and a coffee shop.

Despite these conveniences, the Inn suffered financially from the Great Depression and the operators struggled to keep up with bills. After a 1936 reorganization, Buckingham Chandler took over as the president of the new hotel company. Unfortunately, the Inn would suffer again from a fire in July of 1938, burning much of the third floor. The repair and rebuild was completed in less than six months by the architecture firm Anderson & Ticknor.

Now known as the Deer Path Inn, the hotel underwent an extensive interior restoration in 2016.

Lake Forest High School student Katherine Graham made this video sketching the history of the Deer Path Inn.

Video by Katherine Graham, 2019. World Civilizations 2, Lake Forest High School Social Studies Department.