Column: Old Wadesonian gets New Life for 100th Anniversary
Published 3:07 pm Thursday, May 18, 2023
By Elisabeth Altamirano-Smith | Community Columnist
The old Wadesonian Theater located at 726 Second Avenue N. in Clanton is being renovated and restored. The owner, Kelly Easterling, and her family moved to Clanton in 2022 from Jacksonville, Florida. She and her husband Kevin, a native to Chilton County, were looking to get away from the city and “looking for a simpler way of life.”
“Not long after we moved here, I was driving through town and took note of the old theater, still standing, but vacant and run-down,” said Kelly. “Something about the building inspired me. It is a true gem with hidden potential. When I mentioned the idea to my 13-year-old son his eyes lit up and we immediately got to work. We contacted the owner, then found out he was willing to sell and we purchased the building. Together we have written a business plan, learned the legal aspects of running a business and learned the basics of the financial side.”
The Easterlings have three children and by opening the theater, Kelly hopes to set an example that you can take risks and it is possible to take control of your future.
According to the Chilton County Historical Society website, the Wadesonian Theater was opened by Charles William “C. W.” Wade of Calera in June 1922. Unfortunately, the original location was short-lived and burned down in 1923. In February 1924, Mr. C. W. Wade moved his picture show to the theater building on the west-side of the railroad on Second Avenue, current location. Wade was well-known in central Alabama at that time for owning theaters. He also ran theaters in Thorsby, Calera, Montevallo, and Columbiana.
Nearly a hundred years later, Kelly hopes to bring new life to the Wadesonian by reopening the theater as the “Peach Country Theater” as early as Summer 2024.
“Although the bones are good, it will need extensive renovations before we can get it up and running,” Kelly said. “(It) requires a roof, sheetrock repair and replacing plumbing, electricity, lighting fixtures, bathroom fixtures, doors, windows and ceiling tiles.”
The time frame of repairs will depend on funding and donations from the community and will be repaired one project at a time. Donations can be made to GoFundMe.com by searching Peach Country Theater. Community members with construction expertise are also welcome.
“We want to restore it to its former nostalgic charm and bring back its natural beauty,” Kelly said. “We will host reliable, fun and affordable movies for the community. It also has a solid, fully-functioning stage so we want to host all types of live events: comedians, musicians, everything.”
Follow updates on renovations via the Facebook page, Peach Country Theater. Peach Country Theater will also have a booth at City Fest on June 2 in Downtown Clanton and Peach Jam on June 24 at Clanton City Park. For more information, visit www.peachcountrytheater.com.