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updated: 1/11/2014 11:39 AM

Filmmaker's legacy will endure at Gorton Community Center

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  • Rendering of the planned John and Nancy Hughes Theater at the Gorton Community Center

    Rendering of the planned John and Nancy Hughes Theater at the Gorton Community Center
    Photo courtesy of Gorton Community Center

Gorton Community Center submission

John Hughes will always be remembered for providing such movie hits as "Home Alone" and "The Breakfast Club" but in 2014, his legacy will live on in the heart of Lake Forest.

At the invitation of Gorton Community Center, Nancy Hughes, longtime resident and wife of the late film director, producer and screenwriter, will endow the transformation of the Gorton auditorium into the John and Nancy Hughes Theater. Her generosity will create a state-of-the-art performance space for Lake Forest and Lake Bluff residents.

"I am elated to give my blessing to this theater named in memory of my late husband, John. He spent many of his best years, as a filmmaker and father, in the city of Lake Forest. Our family found it a fitting tribute to his film legacy, which often was set in Chicago's North Shore," Nancy Hughes said.

These renovations will usher in a new era for Gorton.

"Imagine enjoying 'Miracle on 34th Street' with friends and neighbors after the Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony or seeing your child perform their very first concert with state-of-the art sound," said Gorton's chairman, Blair Nagel.

"Thanks to Nancy and her family, we will be able to provide these kinds of events for the community."

The new theater will include:

• New exterior entrance through the Solarium, highlighted by a theater marquee over the east doors.

• New interior entrance, featuring an elegant wall of glass to invite people into the space.

• Modern sound and speaker system, including sound absorption panels.

• Digital lighting system.

• Monitoring and paging system that will allow communication between the backstage and dressing areas.

• Ceiling-mounted, theater-quality video projector and digital video player.

• Movie-theater quality screen for large format films.

Gorton will work closely with city officials throughout the building permit process.

Working from the 2012 master renovation plan by Steve Wright of Wright Heerema Architects, development of the final architectural plan will begin this month. Once the plan is complete, the renovation will begin.

"The John and Nancy Hughes Theater will bring together the members of our community for generations to come -- it's an extraordinary example of how our residents care for this treasured institution," said Gorton's Executive Director Brenda Dick.

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