Inn History

The original Deer Path Inn was located at the southeast corner of McKinley and Deerpath Road, a site that had been a hunter’s log cabin on a trail leading to Lake Michigan, thereafter known as Deerpath Road. Built in the 1860s, it was initially the stately residence of a wealthy Chicago family, and later became a popular weekend retreat for the wealthy and elite upper class. In 1929, the current inn was completed on Illinois Road and the old inn was razed. William C. Jones (b.1868), a Chicago Architect and member of the Chicago Institute of Architects, designed the Deer Path Inn. In 1890, Mr. Jones moved from his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio and became associated with the well-known architectural firm of Holabird & Roche. He also took part in the design of the 1893 World’s Fair. In addition, Jones designed several hundred churches in the Chicago area. He later died in November 1930, nearly a year after completing Deer Path Inn. The Inn itself was styled after The Manor House (c. 1453) located in Chiddingstone – Kent, England; a half-timbered and stucco Tudor home. Chiddingstone has direct ties to Anne Boleyn and Catherine Parr, both wives of King Henry VIII. A photograph of the home in Chiddingstone can be viewed in our Reception Area. Photographs and drawings of the Deer Path Inn from the 1920′s and the 1930′s are located in the downstairs hallway at the entrance to the White Hart Pub. Deer Path Inn contains 54 guestrooms, including 27 suites. Each of the inn’s guestrooms are individually decorated and named after a National Trust of England historic site. It also accommodates the North Shore’s award winning English Room restaurant, which has an extensive wine cellar, the White Hart Pub, eight meeting and banquet rooms, and an outdoor courtyard displaying its English splendor. Deer Path Inn was known as a weekend haven for affluent Chicagoans and out-of-towners visiting their relatives and friends. A quote from a newspaper article describing the grand opening of the Deer Path Inn in 1929 stated,

All evening attendance was large and all who inspected the new hotel were impressed with its beauty, and the many facilities provided for the comfort and convenience of its quest.

Bill Henderson, Jr. was a bellman at the Deer Path Inn during the summer of 1949. He recalls Friday mornings when the place would become frenzied as city folk and out-of-towners descended upon Deer Path Inn to enjoy a few days in pastoral Lake Forest. Mr. Henderson remembered:

If you were going to Lake Forest for a weekend, you were going to stay at the Deer Path. They would come for the weddings, concerts, to visit friends, or just get away. Everyone was so proper then, so elegant. At six o’clock, the ladies would come down to the lobby dressed in long evening gowns ready for cocktail hour and dinner.

The Deer Path Inn is proud to continue their high standards of excellence and quality service, maintain their inviting guestroom accommodations, elegant meeting facilities, and fine dining standards to all of their patrons.