by Mabel Suen
Edwardsville, Illinois' landmark Wildey Theatre (252 North Main Street, Edwardsville, Illinois; 618-692-7538) has over a century of history. Built in 1909 as an opera house by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the space was eventually converted into a theater and prolifically screened films for a period of more than 50 years. After closing in the '80s for quite some time, the Wildey underwent a second renovation, installing new comforts while retaining aspects of its art-deco interior and classic charm.
Since last spring, the 325-seat Wildey Theatre -- a nonprofit organization owned by the city of Edwardsville's parks and recreation department -- has been busier than ever.
"We reopened as a full-fledged operating theater featuring concerts, movies and entertainment of all sorts on April 12 of this year," says theater manager Craig Leitner. "People are thrilled to have it up and running again."
The theater also partnered with wine and spirit store Crushed Grapes Ltd. and opened an in-house wine bar. The beginnings of the beautiful partnership brought to life a set of wine tasting and movie events back in July, which has since evolved into a monthly feature along with monthly beer-tasting and movie events.
This Thursday, September 15, at 6:30 p.m., the Wildey Theatre features a beer tasting and showing of classic Bond film Goldfinger. For $16, enjoy at least a dozen beer samples, including a mix of imports and craft brews in the theater lobby followed by a screening of the film at 7:30 p.m.
"I do the movies and Len Scaturro from Crushed Grapes does the pairings, so it worked out pretty easily," says Leitner. "We have a lot of friends at the Wildey who talk about what they'd like to see, and Len goes seasonal. He did summer wines for the last event and will do autumnal beers soon."
Some Thursday mornings at the Wildey also feature coffee concerts, showcasing Goshen coffee and pastries from 222 Artisan Bakery. For a full listing of events and ticket information, visit the Wildey Theatre online.