Contact us if you are interested in participating in the restoration of this historic theatre and helping in the revitalization of our community.

Present Day

The Historic Wilson Theatre

Renaissance Arts Center

The restoration and renovation of the Historic Wilson Theatre is beginning its 13th year and we are in the final phase - the theatre auditorium.  We might note, most of us that started in January 2000 to restore this beautiful facility are getting pretty old; and would love to have this completed and get to see it used as a cultural art center and also a community center, as it was once used.

The theatre will offer opportunities in arts and cultural training for young and old, and all ethnicities.  It will provide a place for local performers & performances from outside the area.  It is unfortunate when the economy gets bad because schools have to cut programs; which tends to be drama, music, and art.  This will be a place where those opportunities will be provided.

We have reached a stage where we need theatre lights, sound, seats and curtains.  These are the big priced items needed to get this theatre completed.

The lights and sound are $150,000, which we are trying to raise money for through

More than $1.6 million has been raised through grants, foundations, fundraisers, and donations over the last 12 years.  That doesn't include the $350,000 through in-kind labor and materials.  All of which went into making the Wilson the cornerstone of the area.


Daniel Ward and Mennie Wilson had a dream of building a beautiful and unique opera house in Rupert, Idaho and that dream turned into a reality in 1920.

The Historic Wilson Theatre has undergone a restoration almost in entirety. Only a few items remain,, with the support of the community and the devoted team of people who work continually restoring all the elements of the theatre.

Mission and Vision Statement

Our mission is to complete the restoration and transformation of the Wilson Building & Theatre, and create an innovative multi-purpose Community Center.

Our vision is to meet the needs and desires of our local people to provide quality cultural resources through arts, education, social and economic development.

Our goal is three fold: To bring together human resources for developing talents, learning new skills, and enriching the quality of life; to create a catalyst for revitalization of our community; and to continue the creative spirit of those who developed this region, established our city and created this facility, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


The Wilson Building & Theatre was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 17, 2001.

It all began in 1920

Daniel Ward and Mennie Wilson had a dream of building a beautiful and unique opera house in Rupert, Idaho; and that dream became a reality in 1920.

By 1919-1920, World War I was over.  The soldiers were home and it was a time of renaissance, not only for the country, but for little Rupert, Idaho.

The Wilson Theatre was a vaudeville theatre, but it soon was showing silent movies with celebrities such as Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford gracing the “golden screen” in silent movies.  The Wilson opened on August 25, 1920.  The theatre was also used for local plays and high school productions, and soon evolved into the “talking movies.”  The building was also used for conventions, community meetings, and church events.  Even the clerk for the City of Rupert was housed in the Wilson Theatre, until the city hall was built in 1939.

In 1997, a volunteer group of businessmen began a community development committee called the Rupert Renaissance Initiative (RRI).  This was a three-year project to gather information on what the community wanted for the future of Rupert.  To achieve this goal, the RRI had three “vision fairs,” and through these events it was discovered the citizens wanted more arts, cultural opportunities, and diversification of the economy.  That information led to the decision to purchase and renovate the Historic Wilson Building & Theatre and the creation of the Renaissance Arts Center, Inc. (RACI) in 2000, a non-profit organization.

A feasibility study was completed by Myers/Anderson Architects of Pocatello, and it was determined the building was in stable condition and had maintained much of the integrity of when it was built in 1919-1920.

The Wilson Building & Theatre was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 17, 2001.

The renovation and restoration has been funded by grants, donations and fundraisers. No local tax dollars go into the project.


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