Built in 1921 along the bank of the Clark Fork River indowntown Missoula, Montana, the Wilma building has a long and colorful history.Commonly called the "Showplace of Montana," the eight-story buildingwas constructed by William "Billy" Simons, an early westernentrepreneur who produced Wild West shows and built theatres in Oregon, Idaho,and Alaska during the Gold Rush. At the grand opening, the main floor theatrewas dedicated to his wife, Edna Wilma, a famous light opera star who performedon the Pantages vaudeville circuit. Today the Wilma building, with its 1,066seat Louis XIV-style theatre, remains a Missoula icon. It was the first modernsteel-framed skyscraper built in Missoula. It houses two theatres (1 smallcinema with 125 seats and one large 1,067 seat theatre), offices, andresidential space. It is located at 131 S. Higgins Ave.
The theatre is a beautifully ornate Louis XIV style theatre.The main auditorium seats 1,063 patrons in red, well-cushioned chairs andregardless of whether patrons came to see a documentary film, a nationallytouring punk-rock band or the ballet, there is plenty to see long before theshow ever starts. The ceiling is the largest hand-painted ceiling in the stateand the walls, balconies, lobby, and stairwells all feature elaboratedecoration or trimming. The entryway is flanked with black Italian marblewalls, and the stairs leading to the balcony and restrooms have an overpoweringbrown and gold pattern that rather than assault the senses, somehow exudesluxury of a bygone time.
In addition to the theatre the building contains arestaurant and bar on the park level, two floors of commercial office space,and five floors of residential condominiums.